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Dr. Mark Keller Poole


Thomas Jefferson Poole, Jr.

Dr. Poole with Bakuba/Bakete chiefs at the Bulape airport, early 1950s.
The plane was given in memory of Maj. Daniel Iverson, Jr., the son of the pastor of one of our supporting churches.

All photos courtesy of Amelia Poole Sudderth

Mark Poole Family

Mark K. Poole was the son of Thomas Jefferson Poole II and Martha Elizabeth Keller. He was born on March 3, 1909 in Bay City, Texas. On May 30, 1936, Mark married Sara Amelia Day, born in Vienna, Virginia, on July 13, 1905. They were married in Westminster Chapel in London, England, and then proceeded to the Belgian Congo, Central Africa, to begin a twenty-six year missionary career under the American Presbyterian Congo Mission.

Four children were born to Mark and Sara: Elizabeth, born in March 16, 1937, who married Dr. Donald R. Shepherd and had Elizabeth, Stephanie, Leslie and Don Poole; Amelia, born in 1938, who married Joe R. Sudderth and had Joe Mark, David, and Sara; Emily Ann, born on April 26, 1941; and Frances Katherine, born on January 17, 1943. Emily Ann and Frances Catherine died as infants on the Mission Field at Bibanga and Bulape.

Mark, a graduate of The University of Texas, Johns Hopkins Medical School and the London School of Tropical Medicine, and Sara, a graduate of the Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing, spent most of their mission career at Bulape at the Lapsley Memorial Hospital. Many thousands of individuals were treated yearly. A new treatment for African Sleeping Sickness was developed in cooperation with Dr. Harry Eagle of the United States Public Health Service. Four members of the Poole family contracted the disease. Malignant malaria and other tropical diseases were treated as well as many major surgical conditions--many more extreme than seen in America.

Poole was the first doctor to use the airplane as a major instrument in reaching the sick in Central Africa. Most of the work done by the Pooles was in the Bakuba Kingdom and among the patients treated were 537 wives in the harem of the king, King Lukengu, who gave Sarah, Elizabeth, Amelia and Mark their royal names.

Elizabeth and Amelia, after completing the Calvert Course under their mother and high school at the Mission School in Congo, returned to America. Both were graduated from Austin College with honors. Elizabeth received a lifetime teachers certificate and taught in the Dallas public school system for two years while her husband, Donald R. Shepherd, completed his medical education at the Southwestern Medical School in Dallas and obtained his M. D. degree. Later he completed a residency in Pathology. After college Amelia was graduated from the Johns Hopkins Hospital School of Nursing as the top student with a B. S. degree in Nursing. She subsequently married Joe Ray Sudderth, who was a director in the Department of Human Resources for the State of Texas.

The Pooles retired from the mission field in 1962 after twenty-six years, which included three revolutions. Their mission plane, as well as that of a fellow missionary, John W. Davis, were important assets in the evacuation of missionaries and others at the time of the Independence of the Belgian Congo. All of the work done on the mission field was one in the name of Christ. Medical missions are an "Opening wedge for the Gospel."

Following service in Africa, Poole practiced general surgery in Bay City, Texas, for ten years, and he and his wife, Sara, continued to live in Bay City after their retirement.

Historic Matagorda County, Volume II, page 410

Above, portrait of Dr. and Mrs. Poole in 1970, the original of which hangs in the IMCK Bon Berger ("Good Shepherd") Hospital in Kananga, Congo, where the surgical suite was named in their honor.

Early 1930s--Dr. Poole at the Poole Ranch, on the San Bernard River in Brazoria County.

1937 - Dr. Poole Daddy leaving on an exploratory trip with a group of the Basongo Menu.
These people are part pygmy, and file their teeth.


Dr. Poole at the  Batua air dispensary, in the mid or late 1950s.
The people are semi-pygmy.

Mrs. Poole with a Congolese mother and her now-healthy
surviving premature baby, at Bulape Hospital.

Dr. Mark Keller Poole

Funeral services for Dr. Mark Keller Poole, 88, of Bay City will be held 11 a. m. Friday at the First Presbyterian Church with the Rev. Sam Steele officiating. Burial will follow at Cedarvale Cemetery.

A lifelong resident of Bay City, Poole died peacefully at his residence Monday.

Dr. Poole was born March 3, 1909, to the late Thomas Jefferson Poole, Sr. and Martha Elizabeth Keller Poole in Bay City. Poole graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Texas and obtained his medical degree from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. After graduate study at the London School of Tropical Medicine, he married Sara Day and they proceeded to the American Presbyterian Congo Mission for 26 years.

Dr. Poole was an elder in the Presbyterian Church. In the Congo, he did primary research, in conjunction with the U. S. National Public Health Service, in the development of prophylaxis and treatment of Trypanosomiasis, African Sleeping Sickness. He pioneered the use of aviation in medical mission work in the Congo interior, piloting his own plane, and was the subject of a July, 1956 Readers Digest article in connection with this.

In the Civil War that followed the independence of the Congo in 1960, he was one of two mission pilots who flew the evacuation of the missionaries ordered by the American Condulate and was an advisor to the State Department during that crisis.

In connection with this, he was commended for courage in a Life Magazine editorial entitled "The Gift of Courage."

The Poole-Stixrud Surgical Suite of Good Shepherd Hospital in Kananga, Congo, was built and named in his honor.

Dr. Poole was a Fellow of the American Surgeons, an Affiliate of the Royal Society of Medicine (England), and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene in London.

He was awarded the medal of the Royal Order of the Lion by the King of Belgium, in appreciation for his years of service.

Other honors include being named Distinguished Alumnus of the University of Texas, and Doctor of Science by Austin College in Sherman.

He was named an officer in the American Society of l'Alliance de Chevalerie des Hospitaliers de St. Jean de Jerusalem (Order of St. John of the Cross, Malta).

After his retirement from overseas mission work, Dr. Poole practiced general surgery in Bay City for 10 years and served as Chief of Staff of Matagorda General Hospital. He was active in The Gideons in support of the distribution of Scripture.

He is survived by two daughters and sons-in-law, Elizabeth and Dr. Don Shepherd of Conroe, and Amelia and Joe Sudderth of Waco; grandchildren, Lisa Shepherd of Austin, Stephanie and Sam Pearce of El Paso, Leslie Shepherd of Atlanta, Ga., Don and Kari Shepherd of Cincinnati, Ohio, Mark and Margaret Suderth of Ft. Worth, David and Drucilla Sudderth of Waco, Sara and Bryan Shippey of Lubbock; and great-grandchildren, Sara Gardner and Bryan Gardner of Austin, Darla Sudderth of Waco, Samuel Pearce of El Paso, and Anna Sudderth of Ft. Worth.

Dr. Poole is also survived by his "adopted" daughter, Teresa West of Bay City, sisters-in-law, Anna Day and Emily Reid of Harrisonburg, Virginia; nieces, Martha Muse, Dona Worrell and her husband Tommy, Kathleen Burke, and Jeanne Keen; nephews Rosewell Burke and his wife Marian, Barry Barbour and his wife Judy, and Joe Barber, and other great nieces and nephews. The family thanks the following loving ladies who blessed his life: Teresa West, Karen Snider, Bonnie Harris, Kathy Smith, Yolanda Grisham, Ossie Lee Williams and Lillian Schulze.

Pallbearers will be Dr. Kenneth Culbreth, E. M. Huitt, Jr., Dr. Bob Kelly, Art Martinez, Dr. T. Gordon Smith, and Jerry West. Honorary pallbearers are Dr. Don Chapman, Dr. George Constant, Jimmy Craft, Mark Grisham, and Gerald Ussery.

Memorials may be sent through First Presbyterian Church and designated to Bulape Hospital Congo, where he served for so many years, or sent to Mission Aviation Fellowship in Redlands, California.

Arrangements are with Taylor Brothers Funeral Home.

The Daily Tribune, August 6, 1997

Marker photos courtesy of Betty Crosby

Sara Day Poole

Funeral services for Sara Day Poole, 86, are scheduled for 2 p. m. Sunday at the First Baptist Church in Bay City with Dr. William Baker officiating.

Mrs. Poole was born July 13, 1905 in Fairfax County, VA. and died Feb. 15, 1992 at her home in Bay City.

She was a graduate of Johns Hopkins Hospital School of Nursing and was a registered nurse. She was married to fellow Johns Hopkins alumnus Dr. Mark K. Poole at Westminster Chapel in London, England, on May 30, 1936 by Dr. G. Campbell Morgan.

Mrs. Poole and her husband served as medical missionaries with the American Presbyterian Congo Mission in the Belgian Congo for 26 years. She served there as nurse, anesthetist, nursing instructor and Bible teacher. During her service in the Congo, Mrs. Poole was the author of articles about her mission work which were published in the Presbyterian Survey. She was honored by life memberships from the women's organizations in the Methodist Church, in which she grew up, and the Presbyterian Church, U. S. She also was a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution.

Mrs. Poole was honored for her service in the Congo  by the conferring of the Medal of the Golden Palms of the Order of the Crown by the King of Belgium. She was subsequently recognized with a proclamation of the Senate of the state of Texas commending her for her service to humankind.

She was an associate member of First Baptist Church of Bay City.

Beloved wife and mother, Mrs. Poole is survived by her husband, Dr. Mark Keller Poole of Bay City. She is also survived by two daughters and sons-in-law, Elizabeth and Dr. Don Shepherd of Conroe and Amelia and Joe Sudderth of Waco; grandchildren, Lisa and Russell Gardner of Austin, Stephanie and Sam Pearce of Bedford, Leslie Shepherd of Atlanta, Don Poole Shepherd of Conroe, Mark and Margaret Sudderth of Forth Worth, David and Drucilla Sudderth of Waco and Sara Sudderth of Waco; and two great-grandchildren, Sara and Bryan Gardner.

Mrs. Poole is also survived by her "adopted" daughter, Teresa West of Bay City, and by two sisters, Anna Day of Arlington, Va., and Emily Reid of Harrisburg, Va. She is also survived by other loved family members and friends.

Pallbearers are Jerry West, E. M. Huitt, Jr., Dr. Gordon Smith, Dr. Bob Kelly, Dr. Bryan Simons and Russell Law.

Honorary pallbearers are Dr. Joseph Valloppillil, Dr. George Constant, Dr. Don Chapman, Dr. Fred Matthes, Gerald Ussery, Robert Holbert, Pat Boepple, Wilima Wilder and Earl Roth.

Arrangements are with Taylor Brothers Funeral Home in Bay City.

The Daily Tribune, Feb. 16, 1992

Crowds who have gathered to be seen at the Batua Air Dispensary in the 1950s.
Dr. Poole in the foreground. They had 3 air dispensaries, in areas inaccessible by road.
Dr. Poole and surgical team operating at Bulape Hospital, Bakuba Kingdom. 
Mrs. Poole is directly behind him, doing the anesthesia.  Late 1940s or early 1950s.

Elizabeth Poole Shepherd

Elizabeth Poole Shepherd died Wednesday, March 9, 2005, at home in Tow, Texas. She was born March 16, 1937, at Bulape in the Belgian Congo, Africa, the daughter of Dr. Mark Keller Poole and Sara Day Poole, medical missionaries in the Congo. Elizabeth was a descendant of the Keller family who received a Spanish Land Grant in 1829. Elizabeth graduated from high school at Central School in the Congo and then graduated from Austin College, Sherman, Texas, Magna Cum Laude in 1958. She married Donald Ray Shepherd in Bay City, Texas, in 1958. They were blessed with 46 years of marriage and with four children born to their marriage. Elizabeth loved her family and found fulfillment of God's purpose for her life in the years devoted to them. She felt blessed to see life continue through generations. Elizabeth and Don spent four years in Dallas where he attended The University of Texas Southwestern Medical School and she taught Honors English at Thomas Jefferson High School and Edward Cary Junior High School. They lived in Conroe, Texas for 28 years and then retired to Tow in 1999. Elizabeth was active in her church community. She was President of the Women of the Church of First Presbyterian Church, Conroe, and an adult Sunday School teacher. Elizabeth served as President of the Montgomery County Medical Auxiliary, Board member of the American Cancer Society, District Chairman of Boy Scouts, and was active in the Girl Scouts. For 25 years she was the executive business manager for Dr. Shepherd's pathology practice and laboratory. She is listed in Who's Who in the Southwest. After retirement in 1999, and their move to Tow, Elizabeth and Don became active members of First Presbyterian Church in Llano, Texas. She taught Youth Sunday School. Elizabeth also was a member of Llano Woman's Club and served as President in 2003/2004. Elizabeth was preceded in death by her parents Dr. Mark Keller Poole and Sara Day Poole. Her grandson, Olav Tag Hoyer, also preceded her in death. Elizabeth is survived by her beloved husband Dr. Donald Ray Shepherd. She is survived by four children: beloved daughter Elizabeth Amelia Shepherd of Austin, Texas, beloved daughter Stephanie Shepherd Pearce and her husband Sam of Meadowlakes, Texas, beloved daughter Leslie Shepherd Hoyer and her husband Ted of Stone Mountain, Georgia, and beloved son Don Poole Shepherd and his wife Kari of Ewa Beach, Hawaii. Nine dearly loved grandchildren survive: Sara, Bryan, Sammy, Stephen, Shelby, Elizabeth, Keller, McKenna and Sawyer. Elizabeth is also survived by her sister Amelia Poole Sudderth and her husband Joe of Waco, Texas, and her niece and nephews: Sara and Bryan Shippey, and their children Faith and Ellen, David Sudderth and his daughter Darla, and Mark and Margaret Sudderth and their children Anna and Martha. She is also survived by two aunts, Anna Day and Emily Reid of Harrisonburg, Virginia and by brother-in-law and sister-in-law Gary and Linda Shepherd. A number of cousins also survive. Visitation will be held at Waldrope-Hatfield-Hawthorne Funeral Home in Llano, Texas, Thursday, March 10th from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Funeral Services officiated by Chaplain Joe Degi will be held at First Presbyterian Church, Llano, Texas on Friday, March 11, at 11:00 a.m. Burial with graveside service will follow Saturday at 10:00 a.m at Cedarvale Cemetery, Bay City, Texas, with Reverend John Pope officiating. Memorial gifts are suggested to Presbyterian Children's Homes and Services, 4407 Bee Cave Road, Suite 520, Austin, Texas 78746 or to Mission Aviation Fellowship, P.O. Box 3202 Redlands, California 92373.

Arrangements under the direction of Waldrope - Hatfield - Hawthorne Funeral Homes, Inc. In Llano, TX. 78643.


Photos courtesy of Betty Crosby

Dr. Donald Ray Shepherd

Dr. Donald Ray Shepherd died Sunday, May 16 2010, at his home in Tow. He was born on Sept. 7, 1935 in Pampa, the son of Ray and Lorene Shepherd.

Don graduated from Denison High School in 1954 and cum laude from Austin College in Sherman in 1958. He married Elizabeth Poole Shepherd in Bay City in 1958. He then continued his education at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School and graduated in 1962. He was Board Certified in Anatomic and Clinical Pathology. He was elected an Emeritus Fellow of the College of American Pathologists. He served as a Captain in the United States Army from 1963 to 1965 and received the Army Commendation Medal for Meritorious Service.

While living in Conroe for 28 years, Don and Elizabeth raised their four children. Don founded and served as the Chief of Staff of the pathology department at Montgomery County Medical Center in Conroe. He also served as Chief of Staff at Charter Regional Medical Center from 1989 to 1992 in Cleveland. He provided eighteen years of professional service to Liberty Dayton Hospital. He owned and operated a private pathology practice in Conroe and founded and ran Professional Pathology Laboratories in Houston. He also served as Medical Examiner for multiple counties in Southeast Texas.

After retirement in 1999, Don and Elizabeth moved to Tow. They were active members at First Presbyterian Church Llano where Don also served as an elder. In Tow, Don continued to utilize his medical expertise in pathology to perform aquaculture research. He focused primarily on fresh water mussels and enjoyed many years of working in conjunction with the Texas A&M graduate program in this research area.

He is preceded in death by his beloved wife of forty-six years, Elizabeth Poole Shepherd, his parents, Ray and Lorene Shepherd, and grandson Olav Tag Hoyer. He is survived by four children, beloved daughter Elizabeth Amelia Shepherd of Tow, beloved daughter Stephanie Shepherd Pearce and her husband, Sam, of Meadowlakes, beloved daughter Leslie Shepherd Hoyer and her husband, Ted, of Stone Mountain, Ga., and beloved son Don Poole Shepherd and his wife, Kari of Franklin, Tenn.

Ten dearly loved grandchildren survive: Sara (and husband Kenny), Bryan, Sammy, Stephen, Shelby, Elizabeth Day, Keller, McKenna, Sawyer and Elizabeth Poole.

Don is also survived by one great grandson, Nicholas Ray Hickey and by his brother, Gary Shepherd and his wife, Linda of Llano and their daughters, Michelle and Laura Ann. In addition he is survived by his sister-in-law, Amelia Poole Sudderth and her husband, Joe, of Waco; and his niece and nephews, Sara and Bryan Shippey, and their children Faith and Ellen, David Sudderth and his daughter, Darla, and Mark and Margaret Sudderth and their children Anna and Martha.

Visitation was held 6:00- 8:00 p.m. Tuesday, May 18, 2010 at Waldrope-Hatfield-Hawthorne Funeral Home in Llano. Funeral Services will be held 11:00 a.m. Wednesday, May 19, 2010 at First Presbyterian Church, Llano, with Pastor Richard Lounsbery officiating. Burial with Graveside Service will follow at 10:00 a.m. Thursday, May 20, 2010 at Cedarvale Cemetery in Bay City, Texas, with the Reverend Mark Stoub officiating.

Memorial gifts are suggested to First Presbyterian Church of Llano, 1306 Ford St., P. O. Box 385 Llano, TX 78643.

Funeral arrangements made under the direction of Waldrope-Hatfield-Hawthorne Funeral Homes, Inc. E-mail condolences may be sent to or you may log onto our website, for online condolences.

Llano News, May 19, 2010


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Jan. 9, 2014
Jan. 9, 2014