EMIL PEARSON

From the Re-Echo Winter 2006 – Vol. 5, No. 1

Emil Pearson was one of four sons of Peters Son or Pearson. Peter Son was a carpenter and builder. When he moved to St. Louis Park he built a group of homes for his family on Dakota Avenue just north of the Dan Patch tracks.

In 1916, Emil graduated from St. Louis Park High School and went to the University of Minnesota. He was accepted to the mission field in 1918, and in 1919 he was ordained. Emil met his wife, Daisy, when he was taking a crash course in medicine while awaiting transportation to Angola, Africa. Daisy was also a fully trained missionary. They were married in March 1920 and left for Africa in June.

They were headed for the Ngangels region of Angola. The journey to inner Angola took 115 days. They traveled to Livingston by train. From there they traveled around Victoria Falls for four days by ox cart. Next they traveled by flat bottom barges, rowed by natives. This leg took 26 days and then they had to hike another 13 days on foot.

Emil and Daisy loved Africa and assimilated the culture quickly. Emil picked up the language in six weeks. They recognized the secret of the culture that they felt was better than ours. The African people take care of each other by unselfishly sharing.

From 1920 until 1966, Emil and Daisy opened and taught in a large number of missions. Emil became very fluid in the local unwritten Luchazi language. To help his missionary work, he translated the Bible, prayer books, and wrote a dictionary. To record the previously undocumented customs, tales, and culture he wrote several original books in Luchazi and several more in English. They had two daughters, Edla and Regina, who grew up to join them. Although Edla was never able to walk, she taught in the mission for many years even after her folks retired. Regina became a medical doctor, married another, and both served the missions.

The Pearson family spent a sabbatical year in St. Louis Park during the late 1930’s. During this year, Emil became friends with C. Ed Christy who owned a gas station and small sporting goods store at Lake Street and Dakota Ave. When Emil went back to Africa, Christy gave him a gun as a present. There is a letter in the Historical Society from Emil to Christy thanking him for the gun and relating an incident with a lion in which Emil had to kill the lion with the gun in order to protect himself. In a 1989 newspaper article, Emil said he shot and killed no fewer than 14 lions. He thought he had probably killed more lions than any other white man.

In 1966, Emil and Daisy retired to Seal Beach, California. Edla and Regina continued the missionary work in Africa. They were forced to leave Angola in 1975 for Zambia because of a revolution.

Emil and Daisy visited Zambia for three months in 1978 where they visited Edla, Regina and many former Angolan refugees. They found that there was still a great need for more literature in Lachazi. Emil returned to Seal Beach with several assignments from Edla.

Regina died in 1983, Daisy and Edla in 1988, Emil in 1990.

More information on the Pearson family is available in the article “A Swedish Family in St. Louis Park” in the book Something in the Water.