Dale Kietzman: an unsung hero

By February 17, 2015
Dale Kietzman1
Dale Kietzman1

Dale Kietzman speaking at WCIU in 2011.
(Screenshot taken from WCIU Vimeo stream)

USA (MNN) — Your prayers are needed for the family, friends and colleagues of Dr. Dale Kietzman. The 90-year-old unsung missions hero passed away in his sleep Thursday and, according to ASSIST News, will be celebrated and remembered with honor at a memorial service next month.

Dr. Dale Kietzman may be a generation or two outside your frame of reference, but he was a foundational figure nonetheless.

“Because of his work and the work of his colleagues, millions of people can now hear God speak their language,” says Wycliffe USA President and CEO Bob Creson.

“When Dale Kietzman gets to heaven, he’s going to have a room in someone else’s house, because his house will be so filled up with rewards,” the U.S. Center for World Mission’s William Kelley told ASSIST News in 2001.

Growing God’s Kingdom

Dale Kietzman2

(LinkedIn profile picture of Dale Kietzman)

Since stepping onto the mission field with Wycliffe as Bible translator in 1946, Kietzman has been growing God’s Kingdom in South America and around the world.

“Dale first worked in Mexico and then in Peru. Wycliffe founder William Cameron Townsend (Uncle Cam) chose Dale to go to Brazil to open our work in that country,” says Steve Sheldon, who’s been on staff with Wycliffe USA since 1964.

“He cultivated excellent relationships with academic and other leaders in Brazil, which served us well as we worked to provide Scripture for the various language groups in that country.”

Arlo Heinrichs, another Wycliffe USA translator, began working under Keitzman’s leadership in 1959.

“It was Dale’s vision that developed the way the Brazil team moved forward to translate the Bible into 43 different languages at the time,” says Heinrichs. “Dale had extraordinary organizational skills.”

Those skills, paired with Keitzman’s aptitude as a visionary, made a powerful combination. Not only did Keitzman lead Wycliffe teams in the field, he also helped start some of today’s most influential mission groups — Wycliffe Associates and Open Doors USA, to name a few — along with 30 U.S. non-profit groups.

(Photo courtesy of Wycliffe USA)

(Photo courtesy of Wycliffe USA)

In addition, Dr. Dale Kietzman spent a few years teaching intercultural communication at the William Carey International University. He also played a key part in arranging evangelist Billy Graham’s first trip to North Korea in 1992.

Graham became the first foreign religious leader to preach in Pyongyang, the heart of North Korea.

Have you worked with Dr. Dale Kietzman in the past? Please share your experience below!


  • Anita Crase says:

    When we first landed in Brazil in Jan 1959, we were taken to the Kietzman home in Rio de Janeiro. What a privilege it was to live with Dale and Harriett and their family. I can say that both of these dear people were so wonderful to live with. Their children were so great to be around. I had my second baby in June of that year. Noone every complained of a crying baby. Our loss is Heaven’s gain. Love to the family.

  • My wife Carole and I were barely dry behind the ears when we arrived in Brazil in January of 1960. With some information, a push here, an encouragement there, we were launched by the master leader Dale into a program that included post graduate studies in linguistics, work in three language groups, teaching in various universities there and finally a complete Bible in the language of the Guajajaras, a group that numbers over 26 thousand now. We will never forget the sense of humor and gentle guidance that took us toward finishing our long-range goals in the country.

  • Say
    Our family has been blessed by the Kietzman family since Dale and my brother in law, Rev Glyn Evans were roommates at Wheaton College in the forties. Glyn told me that Dale was sick a lot his first year and missed a lot of classes but that he was so smart it did not keep him from great grades. Before that Harriet and my sister, Henrietta had met at Moody Bible Institute as students and I met Harriet at a summer Zoology class. Our friendship with the Kietzmans continued several years later in the Mariners Class at Lake. We are grateful for our fellowship with the family over the years. Anne enjoyed several years of a ladies Bible study with a group from the church.
    “Unsung Hero” is a fitting title for Dale who served the Lord in so many multi cultural missions and also as a pioneering christian diplomat in North Korea. We miss them both. Love to the family.

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