Charles Harpell Stuart (92) died on January 1, 2023 from complications of Alzheimer’s disease in Penney Farms, FL. He was born on April 1st, 1930 to Raymond and Viola (Harpell) Stuart in Worcester, MA.
Charles’ childhood and adolescence were spent in a home atmosphere which was conditioned by Christian parents. He was brought up in the church with his life being influenced by Sunday School and the Young People Society. At the age of ten, he accepted Christ as his Saviour and upon profession of faith in Him, Charles was baptized and became a member of the Pleasant Street Baptist Church of Worcester, Massachusetts.
Throughout Charles’ adolescent years his life was challenged on several occasions by the opportunity of the mission field and during several missionary conferences held at his church. At the age of eighteen he went off to study at Houghton College in New York where he continued to be challenged with the opportunity of the mission field. It was during that time that the task of educational missionary work began to loom as perhaps the area in which he might use his talents. He consecrated his life to the fulfillment of that work if the way seemed to open in that direction.
Charles married his loving partner Jeannette Spinney on August 1, 1952 at Pleasant Street Baptist Church in Worcester, MA. Charles earned his BA in History from Houghton College (1952), a Master’s in History from Bradley University (1953), and a Ph.D. in African History from Boston University (1968).
Charles and Jeannette were appointed for mission service with the American Baptist Foreign Mission Society (ABFMS) on May 24, 1954. They served two terms as teacher missionaries in what is now known as the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
More than 800 students welcomed the Stuarts on their arrival in Banza Manteke (now Nsona Mpangu) to direct six departments of the developing high school. They had another language to learn, Kikongo, but Charles plunged into the work, learning as he went along. By the close of the first year, 125 students were baptized, and the first class of men had graduated from the six-year course of secondary school. Jeannette, along with caring for the needs of the family, taught home economics and Bible.
Charles and Jeannette had deep respect for the quality of Christian life in the Congolese leaders. During the time of upheaval when the Congo was granted its independence it was their Congolese Christian friends who came to their aid. Forced to leave the Congo in 1960 they spent time in the United States studying and sharing the needs of the Congolese until it was possible to return and continue their work in 1963.
In June 1966 they saw the fruition of their work as they presented the first diplomas at Nsona Mpangu to the graduates of the high school program. After this great event the family moved to Kinshasa where Charles served the mission educational office as missionary consultant. The Stuarts wrote at that time, “As we depart from Nsona Mpangu, we shall in a real sense leave part of ourselves in this place.”
After resigning as missionaries in 1968 from overseas service, Charles served as Professor of History at West Chester University (WCU) for nearly 20 years (including service as the Chairman of the History Department). Upon retiring from WCU, he served as Budget Director for the Board of International Ministries of the American Baptist Churches. Additionally, he served as recording secretary and affirmative action officer for International Ministries. In 1998, Charles and Jeannette moved to Penney Retirement Community (PRC) in Penney Farms, FL.
Charles was a member of the Baptist Church of West Chester and served in many capacities over 30 years including Moderator, Trustee, and Adult Education teacher. He served on the Board of the American Baptist Historical Society, Protestant University of Congo, and was a Rotarian (Green Cove Springs chapter) as well as serving on many committees during his time at PRC. He was an associate member of Penney Memorial Church.
His life was centered on his faith in Christ and his beloved family. He loved the sunsets and rocky shores on his annual summer trips to New England and Nova Scotia, tilling his garden, a good book (usually about history), being in the classroom, and supporting education through his work on the Scholarship Committee at PRC. He was a soft-spoken, gentle, and humble man.
Charles is survived by his loving wife of 70 years, Jeannette Spinney Stuart; his children, Charles (Mary) Stuart of Denver, CO, Jeanne (Jon) Krug of Olathe, KS, Glen (Susan) Stuart of West Chester, PA, Patricia (Bruce) Jacobs of Rochester Hills, MI; nine grandchildren, Colleen (Jason) McSherry, Melanie (Rick) Siders, Jennifer (Nathan) Prichard, CJ (Mallory) Krug, David (Megann) Stuart, Seth (Samantha) Krug, Andrew (Rachael) Stuart, Hannah Jacobs, and Hope Jacobs; 9 great grandchildren, Anna, Addison, Thomas, Adam, Rory, Dillon, Evan, Ryan, and Elliott; and sisters-in-law Muriel Burditt, Carol G. Spinney, and Carol R. Spinney, and many nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his parents and sisters Patricia Louise and Guendolen Stuart Smith.
Relatives and friends are invited to a Memorial Service at 11 a.m. on Saturday, March 25, 2023 at Penney Memorial Church, Penney Farms, FL with a reception following the service. Private interment in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia will be held at a later date.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Protestant University of Congo (Education Congo), 2216 Elgin Road, Winston-Salem, NC https://www.educationcongo.org/donate-now or The Charles and Jeannette Stuart Scholarship, Baptist Church of West Chester, 221 S. High Street, West Chester, PA 19382