In Memory of Jim Minnis

Major and Kathy with Jim and JoAnne Minnis in October 2015

It was with great sadness we received news on 20-January-2015 that Chidamoyo alumni Jim Minnis died at the age of 88.  He had been suffering for several months and we rejoice that he is now in a new healed body and singing around the throne of God!

Jim and his wife JoAnne first came in 1997 to Chidamoyo to help us for 6 months. They were retired and they choose to work where they could for the Lord and not just sit around.  Jim did everything from digging out full septic tanks (his first day!) to driving our ambulance to fixing whatever we broke.  He had several “honey-do” lists every day!

He so enjoyed working with Tapson and Oliver, our maintenance workers.  They respectfully called him Sekuru Minnis (which means grandfather with great respect) and they loved working and joking with him.

We kept JoAnne busy cooking for myself and all my visitors—which turned out to be 5 other people for all of the time they were with us.  We all became like a family and spent much time around the dinner table discussing the days’ events.  Many times, JoAnn reminded us if we didn’t stop talking our descriptive medical talk she would quit cooking for us, and Jim always supported JoAnn, so we quickly “cleaned up” our language!

They became Ma and Pa to us when we took them to Mana Pools Game Park and we woke up one morning with a big elephant next to where our kitchen was.  They both were in the PJ’s looking out the window at the elephant and it reminded us of Ma and Pa Kettle of the movies—so Ma and Pa it became forever!

Everyone knows how Jim loved to read.  He always had a book out.  We had great fun reminding him of a time when we were at Mana Pools and an elephant came right up behind him as he read away.  We got a picture and then warned him the elephant was behind him.  He looked up for a minute and went right back to reading as a large elephant walked right by him!  Nothing disturbed his reading!

When they returned from their first trip here in 1997 they became my forwarding agents for a few years and helped in our banking and keeping our mission money coming.  Pa always said—“don’t tell Kathy how much money is in the mission bank account because she will spend it!”

Ma and Pa took me as one of their own children.  I was richly blessed as my parents had died much earlier and now I had another set of parents.  We remained very close and they continued to come to Zimbabwe to work several more times until Pa’s health made the long trip impossible.  Their hearts ached to come back and whenever I talked to Pa on the phone he begged to come back!  I always talked to them before Saturday dinner my time (Saturday am their time) and he always knew I was cooking T-Bone on the braii and he would always say “cook one for me!”

We had some adventures and always laughed a lot.  We met in London in Dec 1999 and toured London for 2 weeks before leaving there on Christmas night and arriving here the day after Christmas to have another Christmas dinner and presents.  We cooked a wonderful turkey dinner in Dr. Michelle Withers flat in London before we left, we heard carols sung in Westminister Abbey and went up in the London Eye.  We drove out to Stratford on Avon and spent the day and ate Kentucky Fried chicken several times because of Zimbabwean with us!  What great fun we had.

When Major and I came to visit Ma and Pa in October 2015 it was a difficult visit.  Pa was ill, not thinking well and falling a lot.  We did get him out to go to the Aquarium in Long Beach with us and to the bank and got his hair cut and to a church group.  We knew with a heavy heart his days were short and when we left we knew we would not see him again before we all met in heaven.  So it was really not a shock to hear he had gone on ahead to heaven yesterday, but it leaves a BIG ache in our hearts.

We are so thankful to Ma and Pa for all their hard work in their retirement.  They both made such a difference to our work at Chidamoyo and to my life.  Even when they couldn’t come anymore Ma would be sewing away theater drapes and uniforms for the hospital and Pa would help her pick up the material.  I felt very fortunate to be known as their “African daughter.”  I did enjoy telling the other kids I was the favorite and most loved—but it was too obvious to all how much they loved all their kids! They have always been very supportive of me and my work and what a joy it was to have 2 fathers in a lifetime!


  1. Thank you Kathy. Beautiful tribute. See you soon.

    His other daughter :)

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