Merle A. Steely

October 5, 1924 ~ May 11, 2022 (age 97)


   Merle Ashel Steely, blessed with a long rich life, died peacefully at age 97 at The Fremont Senior Living in Springfield, Missouri on May 11, 2022.

   He was born on October 5, 1924 on a farm on the bluff above Swan Creek near Forsyth, Taney County, Missouri to Susie Steely (Keller) & Henry Elmer Steely.

   Merle attended Stockton High School and studied at Northwestern Bible School in Minneapolis, Minnesota; Southwest Baptist College in Bolivar, Missouri; and Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois where he got a BA in Philosophy (1950) and a Master of Arts in Biblical Literature (1958). He then took graduate courses at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois.

   Merle enrolled in the Army Air Corps on June 29th 1943 and trained as a pilot, radio operator and gunner during WWII until his honorable discharge on December 12th, 1945 He attained the rank of Sergeant.

   Merle was married to a beautiful young lady, Vera Mae Thompson on June 21, 1948. She was the mother of his five children. Following Vera’s death to cancer on May 5, 1995 Merle married a lovely Christian woman, Dorothea Mae Beaman on August 22, 1996. She was his loving life partner until her death at age 98 on May 10, 2021.

   Merle and Vera felt God’s call to go as missionaries to Liberia & Nigeria in West Africa with the Sudan Interior Mission where they served for 25 years sharing God’s love and gift of salvation. Following this Merle served for 2 years as the senior pastor of New Glarus Baptist Bible Church and then worked as an electrician specializing in telephone repair and computer setup and debugging for Wheaton College until he retired on October 5, 1989.

   Merle was a member of the Branson Bible Church where he served as an elder and taught Sunday School classes on using the Greek Bible Study aids to study God’s Word in the original languages.

   Merle will be especially remembered for being a co-founder (builder & engineer) in 1952 establishing Christian radio station ELWA (Eternal Love Winning Africa) in Liberia to broadcast God’s offer of salvation and other Christian programming across 21 countries in West Africa and the Middle East. He also was a seminary professor and taught Greek, Hebrew and Old Testament Studies at Igbaja Theological Seminary in Nigeria to train national pastors. Merle wrote and published a Greek Bible study aid, “A Cognate Lexicon of New Testament Greek” to help Christians understand the precise meaning of the words in the original language of the New Testament. 

   Merle is survived by his five children—Joyce (Lee) Schmidt of Springfield, Missouri; Allen (Marcia) Steely of Rockford, Illinois; Marcia Parrotte of Roseville, California; Stanley (Amy) Steely of Rochester, Minnesota; and Barbara (Jim) Ford of Phoenix, Arizona; and 14 grandchildren; and 22 great-grandchildren; and his sister-in-law Irene (Glenn) Sherman; step-son Fred (Sharon) Beaman; 3 step-grandchildren; 7 step great-grandchildren; and 20 nephews & nieces. He was preceded by his parents; his two wives—Vera Mae and Dot; and four brothers & five sisters.

   The Funeral to celebrate Merle’s life will be at 10:45 am on Tuesday, May 17th at the Branson Bible Church, 533 Branson Landing Blvd, Branson, MO. This will be preceded by an open casket visitation at 10:00 am. The burial will be at 1:15 pm at Snapp Cemetery just south of Forsyth across Bull Shoals Bridge off Hwy 76. All events honoring Merle Steely are open to the public—relatives and friends are welcomed!

…Memorial contributions are accepted for the ELWA Christian Radio Station’s ministry to spread the love of God across West Africa. (Contact information is: ELWA Radio Station, SIM, PO Box 7900, Charlotte, NC 28241.)

To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Merle, please visit our floral store.


May 17, 2022

10:00 AM to 10:45 AM
Branson Bible Church
533 Branson Landing Boulevard
Branson, MO 65616
Guaranteed delivery before the Visitation begins

Funeral Service
May 17, 2022

10:45 AM
Branson Bible Church
533 Branson Landing Boulevard
Branson, MO 65616
Guaranteed delivery before the Funeral Service begins

Graveside Service
May 17, 2022

1:15 PM
Snapp Cemetery
Highway 76
Forsyth, MO 65653
Guaranteed delivery before the Graveside Service begins


ELWA Radio Station, SIM
P. O. Box 7900, Charlotte NC 28241

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