Founder Tribute: Dr. Don Luttrell

The late Dr. Donald D. Luttrell, Co-Founder, CEM. (1924-1987)

Donald D. Luttrell was born in Oakland City, Indiana, March 23, 1924, and was reared in Indiana and Ohio. He served in the United States Army during World War II in the United States and Europe as a Judo Instructor for Military Police. He married Ruth Tidik in 1946. They had three children: Janet, David, and Donna (Nita).

He studied at the University of Nebraska, Cleveland Conservatory of Music, Baptist Bible Institute in Cleveland, Ohio, and Trinity College in Florida. He had a B. and MA. Degrees in Christian Education from Trinity College, and in May, 1972, received an Honorary D.D. Degree from that institution.

He was ordained a Minister of the Baptist Church in 1950; taught music and directed the Music Department at Trinity College; served in business, assistant pastorate and Christian education positions in Ohio and Florida; and worked with Youth for Christ International in the United States and overseas.

Dr. Luttrell and his wife started their missionary service in 1952, working primarily in the West Indies and Latin America from Puerto Rico.  He was the Founder-Director, and President of the Calvary Evangelistic Mission, Inc. (founded 1953).   WIW Missionary Radio Station went on the air in 1956 to teach the Word of God to the people of the Lesser Antilles Islands. “Follow-up” projects to broadcasting have made the ministry unique: Bible Correspondence School (over 45,000 students); Counseling by correspondence; Radio Rallies; and personal contact in Home Visitation Evangelism.

Don made friends easily, even in the highest places. Here is a letter from then-governor of Puerto Rico, Pedro Roselló, to Ruth on the anniversary of CEM.

For eleven years he and his family lived on Vieques Island, where WIVV Radio Station is located, and where the WIW Vocational Training Center operated. In 1963 the Mission headquarters was moved to San Juan. Since 1982 the headquarters has been located in the CEM Building Complex at 1409 Ponce de Leon in San Juan.

WBMJ Radio Station, in San Juan, was purchased by a fraternal organization with the backing of CEM, which began broadcasting instructional, educational and Bible teaching programming in 1986. Don Luttrell hosted the effective, popular and Bible-oriented, “Questions And Answers” program.

CEM has grown from a pioneer beginning to the successful outreach it is today. He and his staff have become known for their achievements in developing progressive methods to accomplish missionary goals. His “Balanced Progression Plan for Missions” is explained in his book, “God’s Great Commission … And You!” He shared these methods and projects when conducting Mission Methods Seminars and consulting sessions with missionaries representing more than 200 mission stations in over 60 countries.

Dr. Luttrell participated and shared in international evangelistic and missionary conferences and congresses, especially those of which the organization is a member: Evangelical Fellowship of Missions Agencies; National Religious Broadcasters; Radio Broadcasters Association of Puerto Rico, Difusiones InterAmericanas; and National Association of Evangelicals.

Dr. Luttrell received an award for Outstanding Work in Foreign Missions and Radio from Trinity College; awards for Outstanding Service from the Puerto Rican Government; served on committees with varied civic organizations; was the civilian chaplain for nine years at Camp Garcia (U.S. Marine Base) on Vieques Island, chaplain in the Civil Air Patrol; Board Member of Caribbean Consolidated Schools; technical consultant to the Puerto Rican Government; was active in International Christian Leadership meetings, Rotary Club; Board Member of National Religious Broadcasters since 1977; and since 1960 was listed in the “Who’s Who in the South and Southeast.”

He graduated to Heaven on May 22, 1987, after faithfully carrying out his Lord’s Great Commission, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and of the Holy Spirit; teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you; and lo I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.” Matthew 28:19-20.