Archived Sections, Lutherans in Minnesota

Operation Bootstrap Africa founder David Simonson dies

The Rev. J. David Simonson, Lutheran missionary in East Africa, died Monday, August 16, at his home in Arusha, Tanzania. A 1951 graduate of Concordia College, Moorhead, Minnesota, Simonson spent his entire four-decade career working among the Maasai tribe in Africa. He also maintained a home in Fergus Falls, Minnesota.

Eunice and David Simonson. Photo provided by Operation Bootstrap Africa

Simonson believed mission work meant spreading the gospel in unison with doing some form of social service work, such as building schools, churches, hospitals, and clinics, that could not be separated from evangelism. To accomplish his social service work, Simonson founded Operation Bootstrap Africa in 1965 to raise funds in order to build primary schools, rural churches, several medical clinics, a hospital and his crowning achievement, the MaaSae Girls Lutheran Secondary School.
Services were held at the Ilboru Lutheran Church, with a memorial service later at the Arusha Community Church, both in Arusha.

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