Missionary doctor Marilyn Scudder dies

6/3/2005 Exerted from obituary by Trudi Hahn in Minneapolis Star-Tribune

This is a picture of the Mvuni hospital in Tanzania where Dr. Maryilyn Scudder worker. It services the needs of over 40,000 people in the Tanzania country side. If you can help the Mvuni Hospital help others, see the link.

In the spirit of trying to make the world a better place, I came across an obituary on Dr. Marilyn Scudder who died in Salaam, Tanzania on May 16, 2005 at the age of 66. I'm a daily reader of the newspaper. The daily newspaper of choice for me is the St. Paul Pioneer Press-Dispatch. My ties to the Pioneer Press-Dispatch go back to when I started delivering this paper at the age of eight. Legally, it was my brother's paper route, because you had to be 10 to offically have a route. Back than the Pioneer Press and Dispatch we split between the morning and evening papers. My brother and I delivered both.

The first thing I read in the paper is the obituaries. I try to prepare myself for the surprise death of someone I know or am related to. Also, I read the obits of people of note. The obituary of Marilyn Scudder was inspiring to me and goes with the theme of this blog site.

Scudder was born in 1939 to medical missionary parents in Amarah, Iraq. She was the 102nd missionary in her family. Nearly all the missionaries in four or five generations of Scudders had served in the Middle East. She moved with her family in 1949 to Kuwait, where oil had been discovered but had not yet transformed poverty-stricken “old Kuwait,” where she played in dirt streets as a child.

She attended boarding school in India, received a bachelor’s degree from Hope College in Holland, Mich., and an M.D. in 1965 fro the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. After a year’s internship in Kalamazoo, Mich., she moved to the Twin Cities and began a residency in ophthalmology and a fellowship in retina studies at the University of Minnesota.

Her work in Africa began in 1970 when she was head of the eye department at a hospital in Mvuni, Tanzania. She returned to Minnesota in 1971 for further study, and in 1973 joined the eye department at a medical center in Moshi, Tanzania, where she became department head in 1979.

According to Shirley Shumaker, a longtime friend of Scudder’s from New Brighton, MN, “She felt there was plenty of medical advice in the United States. She wanted to be whee she was really of use.”
Sponsored by a German group, the Christian Blind Mission International, the eye team took medical safaris by vehicle and small plane to 30 mission and government hospitals all over Tanzania. People walked for miles to get eye care in the country and then walked miles to get home. Scudder retired from surgery in 2001 and went to live and work with the Franciscan Capuchin Sisters of Maua, on the western slopes of Mt. Kilimanjaro near the village of Sanya Juu. There she continued training nurses and holding eye clinics. She was diagnosed with primary amyloidosis in 2002. She was buried May 21 at her home on the slopes of Mt. Kilimanjaro.


Casey said...

wow! talk about not wasting your life. "Dont waste your life" by john piper reminds me of this story.

Beth S said...

I'm glad that you find my aunt Marilyn's story to be so inspiring. She has been a tremendous role model for me - and if her life can keep giving by inspiring others, too, I know she would like that.

JPN said...


Thanks for the note. You aunt's story is truly inspiring. It's good to know that people still hunt down these inspiring stories.

I posted that story almost three years ago. How time flies...

Anonymous said...

I was a classmate of hers in medical school, but had lost touch after that. At that time her intention was to practice opthalmology in Kuwait, but I see her services were more needed elsewhere. I was saddened to learn of her passing, but am edified and uplifted in learning of her generous, unselfish, and productive life. I remember her as gentle, very real, and approachable. My sympathy to all those who cared for her. Bob K.

M. Jhatham/South Africa said...

Dr. Scudder re-attached my retina at KCMC in Moshi, Tanzania, during the month of December, 1979. It was a very successful operation. I was referred to her by the Opthalmologist at Muhimbili Hospital in Dar es Salaam who indicated that, at the time, she was the only doctor in Tanzania with the necessary expertise and equipment to handle the required operation. I remember her well, especially the kindness she showed and the confidence she exuded which greatly boosted my morale and that of the other patients. I remain deeply grateful and indebted to her. God bless you, D. Scudder.

Alim Karim said...

Dr. Scudder helped remove a foreign body from my eye back in 1994. That visit to Mvumi was the start of a long relationship my family had with her. She used to have lunch at our house every Saturday in Do domain, the closest town to Mvumi. My cousins were with her when she fell sick and continued to care for her with the sisters in Maua until she passed on. She was a caring and courageous woman that always put others before herself. Beth, glad to know another member of her family.