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Gloria E. (Anfinsen) and Don Fox - Missionaries into Africa

(A lifetime Chronology)

  Gloria and Don Fox 1955

 (Gloria and Don Fox in later years – September 1995)

10 March 1927....Donald Peter Fox was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Don's father was Andrew Fox and his mother was Myrtle. Don was raised in South Minneapolis. His father worked as a mechanic for the Street Car Co. Both of his parents were raised on a farm. Don's mother was from Kennedy, MN. His father was from Olivia. Both parents eventually migrated to Minneapolis. Don's parents first met at the Prom Ballroom in St. Paul.

23 October 1927...Gloria Edythe Anfinsen was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Her father was Arthur Morris Anfinsen and her mother was Violet. Gloria also lived and was raised in South Minneapolis in the Lake Nokomis area. Gloria's Dad was a Postal Clerk. Both of Gloria's parents were life long residents of Minneapolis.

January 1945:    Don and Gloria graduated from Roosevelt High School in Minneapolis, MN. They were one of the last classes to have a January graduation month.

      Gloria and Don had their first date on graduation night....dinner followed by bowling. While they had known each other in high school they had never gone out on a date before.

      Gloria had been a pianist in a Christian Fellowship Group at Roosevelt High School.

     Gloria and Don were and are a very unique pair...they were both of a like mind in that they were both interested in Missionary work...their further education was aimed at equipping them to best serve in the Missionary fields. They had considered both India and Africa as the places most needing missionaries'. In the end they decided on Africa.

January - June 1945: Gloria attended Northwestern Bible School.

June 1945: Gloria went into Nurses training at the Deaconess Hospital School of Nursing. A preliminary period of college course work and training was first conducted at St. Olaf College.

June 1945: Don went into the Army Air Corps. Don received his basic training at the Keesler AFB near Biloxi, Mississippi. He was trained as an Air Corps Mechanic. In January 1946, Don shipped out to the Tulln AFB near Vienna, Austria where he served from January - November part of the U. S. Occupation forces in Europe.

     It was during Don's tour of duty in the Vienna area of Austria that he and Gloria started an exchange of letters. The letter writing exchange greatly fostered Gloria and Don's future relationship. Don recalls looking forward with anticipation to receiving each new letter from Gloria.

1947: Don used his GI bill education benefits to complete his medical education at the U of MN.

September 1948: Gloria graduated from the school of Nursing with an RN degree. Don at this point was a Freshman Medical Student at the University of Minnesota.

17 December 1948:  Gloria and Don were married at the Trinity Lutheran Church of Minnehaha Falls in Minneapolis. Their marriage took place during the normal University recess for the Christmas holidays.

     Note: The Pastor who conducted Gloria and Don’s wedding ceremony also helped to inspire them to continue their plans for missionary work. Pastor Maynard A. Force provided them with a quote from the Bible from the Book of Genesis. (Genesis 31:16 - KJV):

 “whatsoever God hath said unto thee, do”

Pastor Force later became a member of the faculty of the Lutheran Bible Institute and eventually the Dean of the California Lutheran Bible School. He also authored four (4) spiritual books published by the Augustana Book Concern.

Trinity Lutheran of Minnehaha Falls would remain Gloria and Don’s church home through 1971.

Gloria and Don had a short honeymoon in the form of a trip to Rochester, MN and a visit to the Mayo Clinics and facilities. Probably not what one would think of for a honeymoon in the present day and age.

1952: Don Graduated from the University of Minnesota, School of Medicine.

1953: Don completed a year of internship at the "Old General Hospital" in Minneapolis and received his MD.

1953-1955: Don worked for 2 years at the Bloomington Lake Clinic for experience. From July 1953 to July 1955.

Tropical Medicine Training in London

September 1955 - February 1956:  Gloria and Don traveled to London where Don studied for 6 months at the London School of Tropical Medicine in preparation for assuming his first position as a Missionary in Tanganyika, Africa. Don received a diploma in "Tropical Medicine and Hygiene."

   ** By the time this dedicated couple left to assume their missionary duties in Africa via London, Don and Gloria had three small children...what a daring couple they were, to embark on this great adventure when they also had the responsibilities of parents with small children. Their family of 3 small children would soon grow into a family of 6 children during their Missionary years in Africa.

Gloria and Don were initially sponsored in their Missionary careers by the Augustana Lutheran Synod of the Lutheran Church.

Gloria and Don’s missionary years spanned the time period of 1955 – 1971. Gloria and Don spent 10 full years in Africa during their three tours of duty over a period of 15 years. These years are during the time of life that most persons would regard as their “Prime of Life” years.

When Don and Gloria first arrived in London, they were housed in the House of Rest for Christian Workers. This facility was similar to a large boarding house. Their accommodations were on the top floor in a large attic type room.

For Don and Gloria with a family of three small children, such accommodations were less than desirable. Gloria was determined to find better lodging for the family.

During the day while Don was in school, Gloria managed to navigate the London underground system in search of better accommodations. Considering that Gloria did so while accompanied by three small children was no small feat. The youngest child, their daughter Nancy was in a "Stroller" at the time. Gloria would get off at each stop, and search out "Estate Agents" in an effort to find suitable lodging.

Gloria eventually connected with a friendly Jewish lady who was also a landlord and suitable lodging was obtained in the "Golders Green" Area of London. Their lady landlord initially expressed some concern and reluctance about renting to a family with three small children. This kindly Jewish lady noted however, that if her daughter was in America, with small children, she would hope that someone would provide needed lodging for her daughter and her children under similar circumstances.

Gloria recalled an occasion when she took the children to one of the "Wimpy's" restaurants in London for a noon meal - Don was in school at the time. Gloria recalled that this outing caused her some embarrassing moments in that two of the children spilled their milk - requiring some cleaning up by the restaurant staff.

     Editorial Note: The first Wimpy restaurant in London opened in 1954 at the Corner House on Coventry Street, London serving Hamburger based meals. The new restaurants proved to be so popular that by the early 1970's the Wimpy chain had expanded to over a 1000 restaurants in 23 countries. The Wimpy name was said to have been inspired by the Popeye cartoon character.

During their London stay, their three children were Philip age 6, Dan age 4 and Nancy age 2.

Philip was old enough so that he attended the London School System in the first grade. Philip was required to wear the standard school uniform worn by all the London school children.

While living in the Golders Green Area of London, Don and Gloria resided in a second floor flat. Golders Green is in the London Borough of Barnet about 5 miles northwest of Charing Cross.

During their stay in London, Gloria and Don were able to spend some time in visiting the usual tourist attractions for which the city is famous. (Buckingham Palace, Parliament Buildings, Westminster Abbey, Trafalgar Square, Piccadilly Circus, Tower Bridge and walks along the Thames.)

Don and Gloria were also able to visit and travel the beautiful English countryside. Gloria and Don also enjoyed the London Parks. (Kew Gardens, Hyde Park and St. James Park.)

March 1956: Don and Gloria left London crossed the English Channel, traveling through France to Venice, Italy.

At Venice they boarded the "Europa" (Ocean Liner) and traveled down through the Suez Canal and disembarked at Mombasa, Kenya.

At Mombasa they were picked up by Missionaries who took them by auto along the coast road to Tanga, Tanganyika.

From Tanga they traveled 120 miles inland to the village of Bumbuli where they served their first tour of duty as Missionaries

The Lutheran Medical Center - Hospital - Bumbuli.

In Bumbuli Gloria and Don worked in the Lutheran Medical Center. (Hospital) Their home was in a single family house located on the compound of the hospital.

The Lutheran Medical Center dates back to the turn of the century when it was a German Medical Facility. Following WWI, Tanganyika became a British Protectorate and the facility was then transferred from German control.

 Lutheran Medical Center

The above picture of the Lutheran Medical Center Hospital was taken during the early part of Don and Gloria’s 2d tour of duty beginning in 1964.)


This Medical Center was a 160 bed Hospital and a Medical Assistant Training Center. Don was one of four (4) doctors on the Medical Center's staff.

In addition to treating the usual medical problems, they also treated what was referred to as "Tropical Diseases."  (Malaria, Typhoid, Intestinal Parasites and Leprosy. Some cases of Small Pox were also treated. Don recalled that at one time they had a small epidemic of Small Pox that gave them some anxious moments. Inasmuch as Don was a surgeon, he also was involved in Cancer surgery as well as Hernia's, Stomach Ulcers and Orthopedic problems. Don was involved in some of the early day partial hip replacement (femur balls) surgery.

Don also had duties as a teacher in the Medical Assistant Training Center in Bumbuli. The Center would start a new class of students each year. The class would number between 9-12 students. Three years of study were required for the normal completion of the program. At the end of the three year program, the students would sit for a Government Examination. Those students, who successfully completed the three year program and the final Government examination, would receive a "Medical Assistant" title. This title would be comparable to the "Nurse Practitioner" designation in the United States.

     Don considers the time he spent as a teacher in the Medical Assistant training program as one of the highlights of his Missionary career in Africa. Don was particularly gratified to see some of the students continue to further their education and status as a result of this program. One of Don's students that continued his education later became the Chief Pharmacist for the Country of Tanganyika. Another student ended up in the United States as a respected Cardio-Thoracic Surgeon in Cincinnati, Ohio. Gloria also recalls this same student fondly as one of her former piano students. A third student later became the Doctor in charge of the Hospital in Bumbuli.

Gloria was a very social person and had much interaction with the people of Bumbuli and the Lutheran Medical Center. Gloria taught classes in Piano, Knitting, English and Bible Study.

During this first tour of duty at Bumbuli, two of Gloria and Don's children were born. Andrew was born in 1956 and Suzanne was born in 1959.

Big Game Hunting in Africa

Game Hunting in Africa: Don has been a hunter for much of his life. Don’s hunting of game birds and small game had a beginning in the early days when his father had taken him hunting. Don knew that Africa would provide many hunting opportunities. Don accordingly arranged to bring the necessary hunting firearms with him. Don brought a shotgun (Winchester Model 37, single barreled 16 gauge shotgun) a small game .22 rifle (Winchester .22 caliber Model 61 slide action rifle) and a big game rifle. (Winchester Model 70 Bolt Action, caliber .375 H&H Magnum.)

The hunting areas in Africa were all located in the “Bush” country about 50 or more miles North, West and South of Bumbuli. Don and family used an English “Land Rover” vehicle to get around in Africa and used it also for their hunting trips. They would carry two extra rectangular cans on the front bumper for emergency supplies of both water and gas.

The Tanganyika Game Department issued the necessary hunting licenses for a one year period of time. The hunting license specified the species of animals and the number of each that could be taken during the one year period of time. There were no special times of the year designated as hunting seasons. The license could be used any time during the year covered by the license.

Normally the hunting party would include one or more of the other Missionaries as well as one or two of the local African men who would serve as guides, cooks and camp helpers. The purpose of the hunting was to provide meat for the family use and for friends. Although Gloria was not a hunter she might also accompany Don on the hunting trips when convenient to do so. At the times when the children were not in school, the hunting expeditions might serve as a family outing. The trips would usually involve being gone for one or two overnights where the party would all camp out using tents.

While their hunting did not involve the very large big game animals such as Lions and Elephants, it did involve well known African big game such as Wildebeests, Hartebeests (Kongoni), Grant’s Gazelle, Impala, Tommy Gazelle, Elands and wild pigs. African game birds were also hunted.

The hunting trips extended over all three of Don and Gloria’s tours of duty in Africa.

August 1959: Gloria and Don completed their first four (4) year tour of duty as missionaries in Africa. Gloria and Don were then furloughed to the United States for 5 years.

(During this 5 years furlough, Don completed his surgical residence at the Minneapolis VA Hospital.)

July 1964: Gloria and Don returned to Tanganyika, (Now called Tanzania.) Africa for second tour of duty as Missionaries.

In a letter dated October 11, 1964 from Bumbuli, Gloria writes: “It was thrilling for us to arrive back at Bumbuli for our second term. We’ve met many old friends, many new students, and seen a real spectacle, a new 160 bed hospital. We are settled in our new (to us), old house vintage 1900. Four of the children are now off to school: Phil at Kijabe near Nairobi, Kenya and Dan, Nan and Andy at Kiomboi in Central Tanganyika. They all seem to be enjoying school. Suzy keeps us from getting too lonely.

Again their duties were at the Lutheran Medical Center in Bumbuli.

Gloria and Don's 6th child, Corene was born during this tour of duty.

In a letter dated October 1966 from Bumbuli, Gloria describes the family: “We have all had a year of good health, except for a few minor ailments. The children continue to grow and mature. Phil is now taller than his Dad, and hopes to start college next Fall. Corky is the only child left at home when the other five are at school, so she is a delight. Danny has joined brother Phil at Kijabe. His letters are newsy and yet to the point. We see to detect he is glad to have a big brother, a senior and active in sports. Nancy, Andy and Suzy represent the family at Kiomboi. Their letters tell of excitement preparing for Sport’s Day, of camp-outs with Uncle Fred and of many other activities that fill their days in addition to generous home work assignments.”

 Fox family in 1966 

(The above picture was taken in 1966 and shows Gloria with all of their 6 children. The family was attending the graduation ceremonies of a local “Confirmation” class.)


Climbing the Tallest Mountain in the World - Mount Kilimanjaro

It was also during this 2nd tour of duty that Don and three of their children decided to climb the famous Mount Kilimanjaro.

     Editorial Note: Mount Kilimanjaro is the highest Mountain in Africa, with a height of 19,334 feet (Uhuru Peak) above sea level. It is also considered to be the tallest "free standing" mountain in the world rising 15,100 feet from the base.

Don and his children's interest in climbing the mountain came from hearing stories of other Missionaries who had done the climb and enjoyed the challenge and  the experience.

Don advises that this is a mountain that can be climbed without having any special mountain climbing expertise or experience. The difficulty in the climb comes from the higher altitudes and the rarefied air making the climb very strenuous and exhausting during the last climbing phase. The climb requires that one to be in good physical condition. It is a test of endurance and stamina.

Don set off to make the climb with three of his children. His two sons Daniel (age 15) and Andrew (age 11) and his daughter Nancy (age 14) made up his personal party of climbers. Don advised that two other Missionary men were also with them on the trip and the climb along with native African porters who transported the necessary supplies, food and other equipment.

The party was initially transported by automobile to the base of the mountain on the Kenya side. From that point onward it was a journey by foot up the mountain. The climb took over three days to complete. At the end of the first day they spent the night in their sleeping bags in one of the natural caves in the mountain. The second night was spent in a cabin or a hut built for the use of climbers. It contained bunk beds that were usable with their sleeping bags.

The morning of the third day was the day of the final effort to reach the summit. Don and his son Dan made the final climb leaving the camp at sunrise. Nancy and Andrew remained at the hut until Don and Dan returned from the climb. Andrew had wanted to make the final climb but shortly after beginning the climb he became sick and Don brought him back to the camp after which he then resumed the final climb. Don described the final climb as one that consisted of taking a few steps, becoming exhausted, resting a bit and then continuing the process until the peak was reached. The final climb was a 4-5 hour effort.

Note: While Don and three of his children were involved in their mountain climbing adventure, Gloria received a telegram advising her of the death of her Mother. When she first received the telegram and before reading it, she was fearful that some tragedy had befallen Don and the children during their climb. Because of the existing circumstances, Gloria was unable to be with her family for her mother's funeral. This was always a point of sadness and regret for Gloria in her later years.

 Fox family 1967

 (The above picture of the Fox family was taken in August of 1967 just prior to Philip leaving Tanzania for college in Minnesota.)

July 1968: Don and Gloria completed their second 4 year tour of duty.

1968-1969: Gloria and Don spent this year on furlough to the United States.

During this year, Don spent part of the year working at the VA Hospital and part of the year with the Golden Valley Clinic. Don was also associated with the North Memorial Hospital for his surgical cases.

1969-1971: Gloria and Don completed their third tour of duty as missionaries. (2 Years.)

As in their past tours of duty, they were once again assigned to the Lutheran Medical Center in Bumbuli for their final tour of duty.

1971: It was during this year that Gloria and Don returned to the United States permanently. (Don and Gloria were both age 44 at this time.)

1972-1984: Gloria and Don transferred their church membership to the Redeemer Lutheran Church in Fridley, MN.

1971-1978: During this time period, Don worked with the Columbia Park Clinic and was on the staff of Unity Hospital.

1978-1983: During these years Don worked with the medical group of Foster, Hanson and Filipovich and was also on the staff of Abbot Northwestern Hospital and Fairview Southdale Hospital.

After Don and Gloria's final return to Minnesota, both engaged in some public speaking in regard to their African adventures and experiences. Gloria put together a special slide show and a lecture on Africa that she presented to some of the local Twin Cities public schools as well as to some ladies social groups and to Sunday school meetings. Don gives Gloria credit for doing most of the public speaking after their return home.

1984-1989: Don became the Medical director at the Moose Lake Regional Treatment Center. (State Hospital)  

1984-1992: Gloria and Don transferred their church membership to the Grace Lutheran Church at McGregor, MN.

During the first two years of Don's tour of duty at Moose Lake, the Fox's maintained two residences. They had an apartment in Moose Lake but also would commute to their "under construction" Home on Big Sandy Lake. They had purchased a lot on Big Sandy Lake in 1976. They spent as much time as possible with their project of completing this house. The Home on Big Sandy Lake became their primary home until 1992.

Don retired following his tour of employment at the Moose Lake Regional Treatment Center.

March 1990: Don and Gloria revisited Bumbuli, Africa for two weeks. On their return trip home they visited Vienna and as well as 4 German friends and families in Germany, that they had previously known and worked with at Bumbuli.

1991-2002: During these retirement years, Gloria and Don wintered in Florida on the Gulf Coast. During this time period, they also spent two winters in Hawaii. As Alzheimer's started closing in on Gloria, such winter trips were no longer possible.

It was also during this general time period that Gloria and Don visited Alaska.

1992: Gloria and Don sold their home on Big Sandy Lake and moved to their present home in Circle Pines.

1993: With Don and Gloria’s return to the Twin Cities area, they again transferred their church membership to the Redeemer Lutheran Church in Fridley where it currently remains.

The Alzheimer's Years!

1996 - Gloria had her first symptoms of Alzheimer's during this time period. Her family was concerned that when out driving, she would become lost or confused as to where she was and how to get home. Gloria had to give up volunteer hospice visitations with Tamarisk Resources, Inc.

1999 - This was the year that Don said they publically announced Gloria’s Alzheimer's.

     Note: June and I were present at a church function when Gloria and Don stood up in the Sanctuary at Redeemer and announced Gloria's Alzheimer's diagnosis. June and I were both impressed with their courage in making the public announcement. June had been diagnosed the previous January 1998 and at that point in time, we had made no public announcements.

2003 - This was the year that Gloria went into a Nursing Home for her further care. She started out at Augustana in Minneapolis but shortly there after was transferred to Camilia Rose in Coon Rapids.

     I recall very vividly the first Sunday when Don came to church without Gloria. June seeing Don alone, went up to him and asked about Gloria. Don then explained to June where Gloria was and the reasons...Don meanwhile did not know that June had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's a few years earlier.

2010 - Gloria Fox passed away at 6:30 AM on Thursday November 11th, 2010 while a resident at the Camilia Rose Nursing home in Coon Rapids, MN. Gloria was then into her 15th year of Alzheimer’s since her diagnosis in 1996. (In somewhat of a coincidence, Gloria' is also buried in Lakewood Cemetery in Minneapolis, as is her friend June Berg.) This sad ending brought to a close the 61 year long marriage of Gloria and Don just a little over a month short of their 62rd anniversary on 17 December 2010. What a remarkable couple and what a remarkable life. These two humble dedicated selfless servants of the Lord did many things during their lifetime only dreamed of by most of their peers. May the story of their life together, serve as an inspiration to others and a blessing to their children and grandchildren.


  (Stanton Berg 10 May 2011.)