Lincoln Nelson, MD, FPCS

Dr. Lincoln Nelson’s passing on March 15, 2012, at the family home in Battle Creek, Mich., brought to a close a 60-year surgical and ministerial career that followed his life motto, “Preach the Word and heal the sick,” taken from Luke 9:2. It was a life that transformed thousands of lives and several areas of the Philippines.

Born in North Collins, N.Y., Dr. Nelson completed his undergraduate degree at Wheaton College in Wheaton, Ill., before returning to his home state where he completed medical school at the University of Buffalo. A Lieutenant JG in the United States Navy, he served during the Korean Conflict as a Naval Surgeon in the Philippines and in Annapolis, MD, receiving the American Area and the World War II Victory medals. Following his honorable discharge from the Navy in 1947, Dr. Nelson returned to the Philippines once again, this time by choice. Having grown to love the country and its people while serving in the Navy, he went back in 1951 as a missionary physician.

His medical missionary career was highlighted by the construction of four 16- to 20- bed hospitals in some of the poorest rural areas of the Philippines. Two of those facilities would grow to more than 50 beds while the other two now have more than 100 beds. He was also proud of the fact that those hospitals resulted in the creation of more than 120 churches.

Serving with the Association of Baptists for World Evangelism, Dr. Nelson worked until his retirement in 1987. Following his retirement, he continued doing missionary medical work in the Philippines, the Ukraine, Bangladesh, Togo, Gambia and Brazil.

A man who offered physical and spiritual healing, Dr. Nelson became an ordained minister in 1961, often performing marriage ceremonies for other missionaries.

Dr. Nelson married his grade school sweetheart, Lenore, in 1944. As children, the pair also attended the same church. She is a registered nurse who, along with Dr. Nelson, raised five children: Linda, David, Sandra, Michael and Shirley. All three girls were born in the Philippines. David is an ordained minister in Battle Creek and is a commercial pilot who worked in the Philippines as a medical air ambulance pilot.

Delighting in spending time with his five children, 11 grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren, Dr. Nelson authored With Christ in the Family and With Scalpel and Sword about his medical missionary work and The Other End of the Stethoscope, a record of his life as a patient following a paralyzing attack of meningeal encephalitis in 2006.