January 3, 2003 - Fremont Tribune: Yemen RPCV Bill "Grandpa" Stowe knew murdered doctor

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By Admin1 (admin) on Saturday, January 04, 2003 - 4:36 pm: Edit Post

Yemen RPCV Bill "Grandpa" Stowe knew murdered doctor

Read and comment on this story from the Fremont Tribune on RPCV Bill "Grandpa" Stowe who first met murdered doctor Martha Myers in 1989 when he traveled to Yemen working as a lab technician for the Peace Corps. "I was a great admirer of hers," he said. "I don't have a doubt that she was the best-known foreigner in Yemen. She knew various dialects so she could speak to all the people - it was just like she was one of them. She never was pretentious and very easy to be around.

"She just loved the people, and the people loved her," he said. Read the story at:

Fremonter knew missionary killed in Yemen hospital attack*

* This link was active on the date it was posted. PCOL is not responsible for broken links which may have changed.

Fremonter knew missionary killed in Yemen hospital attack

By Allison Rushton/Tribune Staff

News of three American missionaries being shot to death Monday while working in a hospital in Yemen shocked the nation. And while religious and political battles continue to rage halfway around the world, the death of one of the missionaries, Dr. Martha Myers, was a blow that hit close to home for one Fremont man.

Bill "Grandpa" Stowe, the night and weekend manager at Fremont's Care Corps, first met Myers in 1989 when he traveled to Yemen working as a lab technician for the Peace Corps.

Though Stowe was stationed at a medical center in Mokha, three hours away from Jibla Baptist Hospital where Myers worked, the two met and became friends.

"I was a great admirer of hers," he said. "I don't have a doubt that she was the best-known foreigner in Yemen. She knew various dialects so she could speak to all the people - it was just like she was one of them. She never was pretentious and very easy to be around.

"She just loved the people, and the people loved her," he said.

While Myers was trained as a general practitioner, there was a greater need in Yemen for surgeons, so she took it upon herself to learn more difficult procedures, making a special effort to care for the needs of women, Stowe said.
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"Many husbands didn't want male doctors touching their wives and daughters," he added. "This gave Dr. Martha more access to women and children."

In a country where money sometimes determines the effort a doctor will put into a procedure, Stowe said, Myers was willing to devote all day to a single patient in need, money or no money.

"The people flocked in," he said. "They knew she was someone who cared enough to take the time that was needed.

"I would say Jibla Baptist had the reputation of being the best hospital in the country. You got tender loving care there, as well as proficient doctoring."

In addition to medicine, Myers was dedicated to bringing joy to the people around her, including Stowe, who recalled that one of his goals on his first visit to Yemen was to ride a camel.

Myers made that dream come true, arranging for a camel and its owner to come to the hospital. And she did more than just get the camel.

"She saved my life," Stowe said, explaining that he once he was on the seated animal, he got little direction from its owner. Just before the camel rose, Myers called to him to hold on very tightly.

Stowe obeyed, narrowly avoiding a fall over the camel's head when it rose abruptly, hind legs first. "If not my life, she at least saved me from breaking my neck."

After serving in the country for 25 years, she also had taken up several Yemen practices, Stowe remembered.

One day he had gone to a prayer session at Jibla Baptist Hospital and noticed someone sleeping on a cot. The person's head was covered, while feet and legs poked out from under the sheets. Stowe later found out it was Myers, and he smiled at the memory of her being so at home in the Middle East country that she covered her face like a Yemeni instead of her feet like an American while she slept.

But though Myers had accepted aspects of the Yemen culture, not all Yemenis had accepted her.

Suspected Muslim extremist Abid Abdulrazzaq al-Kamil, 30, who gained access to the hospital by posing as a father with a gun wrapped in his arms like a baby, has been arrested for the shootings. Although his exact reasons for killing Myers, 57, and two medical workers - hospital administrator William Koehn, 60, and purchasing agent Kathleen Garierty, 53 - in addition to injuring pharmacist Donald Caswell, 49, remain unclear, Stowe guessed political and religious hatred fueled the attack.

While Yemen and the United States were on friendlier terms more than a decade ago, any camaraderie ceased when Yemen's government sided with Saddam Hussein during the Persian Gulf War. Since then, an animosity has developed between the two countries, adding to the fire already burning between Muslims and Christians and Jews in the Middle East.

Warfare throughout Yemen has rapidly increased, Stowe said.

"Even a little hospital was an armed camp. Jibla Baptist had an armed guard at its entrance," he said, adding he had heard Yemen was one of the most heavily armed countries in the world, with approximately 50 million weapons to its 20 million people.

Stowe said Myers served in Yemen despite the dangers because she was called to do so by God.

"Always underneath her work was the honor of the Lord Jesus," he said. "He is given some honor in Islam - the Koran mentions Him - but His sacrifice and His sonship of the Father are denied.

"What we wanted to do was make the gospel of Christ more credible by our living," he said, adding that evangelism is illegal in Yemen, and no native is permitted to practice Christianity.

Stowe said Myers possessed, like Christ, a love that allowed her to give herself up to the people of Yemen, to care and to help even if it went unappreciated.

"She was an amazing display of what Christ can do in another's life," he said.

Despite the heinousness of the crime, Stowe said he hopes the United States will not take any action against the people of Yemen.

"The last thing she would ever want is any kind of revenge taken on the people she was working to help," he said. "Action against them would be counterproductive.

"Dr. Martha had already given up her life," he added. "She wasn't living for herself anymore, she was living for those people she was helping. That's why she wouldn't want any tragedy to harm the people there."

According to Stowe, there has been discussion among Christians for quite some time that in 2003 there would be some sort of uprising in the Muslim world that might provoke some of them to convert to Christianity.

"The death of Martha Myers at the hands of this Islam extremist in Yemen ... has taken away credibility from the Muslims and added to the credibility of Christians," he said. "This was just God starting two days ahead."

On Tuesday, Myers' body was buried in Yemen, which Stowe thought was appropriate.

"My hope and my dream and prayer was for her body to be buried in Yemen," he said. "Those people need her over there with them. She would want that part of herself to be left there.

"She was just amazing. She was taken into the hearts of the people, which was unusual," Stowe said. "I don't have a doubt she will be missed more than any other foreigner in that country could be."
More about Peace Corps Volunteers in Yemen

Read more about Peace Corps Volunteers in Yemen at:

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By JAMESHAMSA (cache-mtc-ae06.proxy.aol.com - on Sunday, April 22, 2007 - 10:41 pm: Edit Post


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