Retired missionary Joan Esselstyn remembered

Howard, Ohio

Retired missionary Joan Esselstyn passed away 5 April. She was 85 years old.

Joan was born in 1934 in Heidelberg Township, Pennsylvania, to Casper and Emma Kehm. After graduating from high school, Joan worked for several years for the American Bureau of Shipping before she felt God’s call to be a missionary. 

She attended Eastern Nazarene College in Quincy, Massachusetts, where she earned a Bachelor of Science in Education in 1959. It was at ENC that she met her husband, Ted Esselstyn. They were married in 1958, and after she graduated from ENC, they moved to Kansas City, Missouri, where Ted attended Nazarene Theological Seminary and Joan taught. 

In 1961, their first child, Karen, was born. The family returned to Quincy where Joan served as assistant registrar at ENC and Ted taught. The next year, they moved to Connecticut where she taught in Woodbridge and Derby while Ted studied at Yale and pastored the Wallingford Church of the Nazarene.

Their children Barbara and William were born in 1966 and 1968, and after William was born, the family moved to Africa to serve as missionaries.

For 34 years, Joan served with her husband as a teacher and educational administrator throughout sub-Sahara Africa. They started, taught, and assisted in the development of Nazarene colleges in more than a dozen countries, including Africa Nazarene University in Nairobi, Kenya.  

They retired in 2002 and moved to Howard, Ohio, serving the Lakeholm Church of the Nazarene and at Mount Vernon Nazarene University.

Joan is survived by her husband; their three children, Karen, Barbara, and William; and their four grandchildren, Brandon, Benjamin, Jacob, and Amy.

Prayer is requested for the Esselstyn family.

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