A Tribute to

Virgil Walter Moneysmith

Written by his daughters and read at his funeral, September 16, 1988, by daughter Esther Gross

He was born on a September night in 1910, and his father walked across town to fetch the doctor to the family home in Mishawaka, Indiana. They named him Virgil Walter, but his fun-loving spirit as a child earned him the nickname of “Flip,” after a mischievous comic strip character of the day. The name was to remain with him throughout his life.

Though not an outstanding student, he was a leader among his peers, and he excelled in baseball and football. During his senior year in high school, he played first-string quarterback. 

The first great sorrow of his life came when his mother died unexpectedly while he was a teenager. During his late teens, he accepted Christ as his Savior at a series of revival meetings. While he had attended Sunday school all his life, he now became active in the Baptist Church. This resulted in his becoming acquainted with the pastor’s daughter, Esther Hawkins. 

During the Depression, not many young people were able to go to college. So the Rev. M. E. Hawkins, pastor of the church and my grandfather, taught evening Bible-school classes. Daddy worked during the day and studied the Bible at night. As he became more a part of the Hawkins family, their devotion to the Lord, their burden for souls, and their great concern for missions became a part of his own vision as well. While still a girl, Esther had felt God’s direction toward missionary service. Together, they responded to God’s call to go to French Equatorial Africa.

They were married fifty-five years ago, on August 5, 1933. I don’t know how, well into the Depression, the family came up with money to buy such a beautiful wedding dress, but I do know that afterwards Mother cut it off and died it black in order to have a nice dress to wear to churches as they built a support team. We still have that dress, but not many in the family can model it now.

The following year they sailed for Africa under Baptist Mid-Missions. Their first home was a mud hut with a dirt floor and a grass roof. During their second term, they moved to a village called Bakouma, where they pioneered the work, founding a church and twelve outpost stations pastored by trained African nationals.
God gave them three children, all of us born in Africa—Esther, Don, and Dottie. Bakouma was a hundred miles from their nearest co-workers and from a doctor of any kind—and a thousand miles from the nearest America doctor. When illness struck (everything from the hard measles to regular bouts of malaria), they did what they could and had to trust God for the rest. To avoid sending their children away for education, Daddy and Mother took the time necessary to teach us at home with materials from Calvert School. 

The twenty years that they spent in Africa were happy and fruitful, and we children have grown up to follow our parents’ footsteps in mission work. Dottie and I and our families have served many years in Colombia, South America. Our brother Don was training to be a missionary pilot when he was killed in an automobile accident at the age of twenty-four. 

Since there were no high schools in Africa, when we children were older Daddy and Mother made the decision not to return. Instead, they helped the mission establish a home for the mission’s high school young people in Wheaton, Illinois. There, in the course of the next ten years, they were mom and dad to 65 teenagers whose parents were serving on mission fields on three continents. Their tables were set, year around, for anywhere from 15 to 25 people. 

After retiring from active mission work in 1965, Daddy went to work for Wheaton College, where he again held responsible positions until taking retirement at age 69. Even then, he continued to serve his Lord, teaching Sunday school and serving in positions of leadership in the church. 

The heritage that he has left is precious to us and to uncounted friends who have known him over the years. It is a heritage of love and of pride, and every one of us is richer for the privilege that God has given us of having been a part of his earthly sojourn. Though we grieve deeply for our loss, we can do nothing but rejoice for him because on a September morning he was set free from his wasted house of flesh, and he has now been promoted to the presence of his God, his son Don, many dear friends who have gone on before him—as well as Abraham, and Moses, and David, and Paul, and Peter, about whom he studied and preached with such fervor and joy. Thank you, God, for the seventy-eight precious years you granted him.

On one of the later days of his life, when disease was already sapping his orientation to the world around him, he made two unprompted statements to some friends. He said, “God is faithful,” and “He never makes any mistakes.” As we look into a future we can’t imagine without him, it is our prayer that we may never lose sight of those two hallmarks of his faith that were standing clear and firm for him even as his humanity was giving out on him. 

Truly we’ve been blessed by his life and the heritage he built for us!



When my life’s work is ended and I cross the swelling tide,
When that bright and glorious morning I shall see,
I shall know my Redeemer when I reach the other side,
And his smile will be the first to welcome me.

I shall know Him, I shall know Him,
And redeemed by His side I shall stand.
I shall know Him, I shall know Him
By the prints of the nails in His hand.

Oh, the dear ones in glory, how they beckon me to come,
And our parting at the river I recall;
To the sweet vales of Eden they will sing my welcome home, 
But I long to see my Savior first of all.


Face to face with Christ my Savior,
Face to face—what will it be—
When with rapture I behold Him,
Jesus Christ who died for me?

Face to face I shall behold Him
Far beyond the starry sky.
Face to face in all His glory, 
I shall see Him by and by.

What rejoicing in His presence
When are banished grief and pain;
When the crooked ways are straightened, 
And the dark things shall be plain.

Face to face! O blissful moment!
Face to face—to see and know;
Face to face with my Redeemer,
Jesus Christ who loved me so.


God sent His Son, they called Him Jesus,
He came to love, heal and forgive;
He lived and died to buy my pardon—
An empty grave is there to prove our Savior lives.

And because He lives, we can face tomorrow;
Because He lives, all fear is gone;
Because I know He holds the future,
And life is worth the living just because He lives!

And then one day, he crossed that river;
He fought life’s final war with pain.
And then when death gave way to victory,
He saw the lights of glory, and he knew his Savior lived.


My heart can sing can sing when I pause to remember
A heartache here is but a stepping stone
Along a trail that’s winding always upward;
This troubled world is not my final home.

But until then, my heart will go on singing.
Until then, with joy I’ll carry on,
Until the day my eyes shall see my Savior,
Until the day God calls me home.

Virgil Walter Moneysmith

September 20, 1910 — September 12, 1988


“O Lord, thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou are God.” Psalm 90:1,2

“He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Al-mighty. I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in Him will I trust. “Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler and from the noisome pestilence. He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust.” Psalm 91:1-4

“Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken....Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your 
hearts to him, for God is our refuge.” Psalm 62:5,6,8 (NIV)

“Do you no know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of heaven and earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary, and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall. (Isaiah 40:28-30 NIV)

“But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as ea-gles; they shall run, and not be weary’ and they shall walk, and not faint.”(Isaiah 40:31)



Congregational hymn:
“My Savior First of All”

Scripture Reading:
Selected ??

Special Music:
“Until Then” Joe Mogle, nephew

“A Life and a Heritage” Esther Gross, daughter

Special Music:
“Anniversary Song” 
(Written by Laurie Gross, granddaughter; prerecorded by Laurie Gross and Sally Huber)

“Dear Dad” Dottie Hoppe, daughter

Congregational hymn:
“Face to Face”

Special Music:
“My Redeemer Is Faithful and True” Laurie Gross

“Remembering, Reminding, and Recommitting”
Bob Hoppe, son-in-law

Special Music: “Because He Lives: Joe Mogle, nephew; Congregation join on last chorus


As I look back on this road I’ve traveled,

I’ve seen so many times He’s carried me through,

And if there’s one thing that I’ve learned in my life,

Dm7 G C
My Redeemer is faithful and true.


My Redeemer is faithful and true.

F G Am
Everything he has said He will do.

F G Am/G/D
Every morning His mercies are new,

Dm7 GC
My Redeemer is faithful and true.

And in every situation

He has proved His love to me.

When I lack the understanding,

He gives more grace to me.

My heart rejoices when I read the promise,
“There is a place I am preparing for you.”
I know someday I’ll see my Lord face to face,
My Redeemer is faithful and true.