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Doyle Kee, who dedicated his life to spreading the Gospel around the globe — especially in French-speaking nations — died Friday in Arkansas after battling severe pneumonia. He was 80.
Kee and his wife, Barbara, served as missionaries in Geneva, Switzerland, for 47 years before moving to Searcy, Ark., in 2017. Doyle Kee made regular trips to French-speaking nations — most recently to the African nation of Chad late last year.
He was passionate about the need for Churches of Christ to reach out to the world’s estimated 275 million speakers of French — a language he himself struggled to master.
“I’m not a good foreign language speaker,” he told The Christian Chronicle in a 2006 interview. “I have strong accent when speaking French — and that’s after 35 years. For me, I have to say that God uses me in spite of that weakness.
“He’ll do the same for anyone else.”
Born in Tipton, Okla., Doyle Kee graduated from Harding Academy in Searcy and earned a bachelor’s in Bible from Harding University. In 1963, he completed a master’s in Old Testament at Harding Graduate School of Religion (now Harding School of Theology). In Switzerland, he completed a theology diploma program at the University of Geneva.
He was honored by Harding’s College of Bible and Ministry at the university’s 2018 Alumni Awards. His biography from the awards program:
Ministry has defined the life of Doyle Kee (’62), and his 60 years of experience are a testament to his service. He and his wife retired to Searcy in 2017 after a full career serving in French world missions.
While in school, Kee preached for a church in West Point, Arkansas, and worked in campaigns in the northeast U.S., even spending a year preaching for a church in Sitka, Alaska. His first full-time preaching ministry was in Clarendon, Arkansas. From 1963-69, Kee preached for a church in Syracuse, New York, where he had the opportunity to work with French-speaking campaigns in Montreal and Paris.
In 1970, Kee and his family moved to Geneva, Switzerland, to begin a church plant. While there, Kee initiated several new ministries, including publications, evangelistic and medical campaigns, and follow-up work and church planting across Europe, Asia and Africa.
His mark on French world missions is extensive and includes editing, translating and publishing more than 36 books, countless newsletters and webpages in French as biblical resources. He helped establish the Center of Biblical Formation in two locations, World Bible School offices in 15 French-African countries, the Hilton Terry Bible School, and a camp and retreat center for children and French-European churches.
“I get to serve God and others as a teacher through the spoken and printed word of God,” Kee said. “Seeing God at work, first in Geneva and then throughout the French-speaking world has been so rewarding.”
He and his wife, Barbara Ethridge (’58), have four children (one deceased) and 8 grandchildren and live in Searcy.
Among friends and fellow missionaries who posted tributes to social media was Scott Raab of the Netherlands, who spent time with Doyle Kee at Advanced Bible Study Series, an annual retreat in Germany.
“We played basketball in the cold (and sometimes in the snow),” Raab said, “and I learned from him how important it is to be an example, to speak clearly for God, but calmly, to learn always and to keep looking for how God wants to use you.”
Check back for updates and memorial arrangements.
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