Richard Lyle Beller “Dick Beller” passed on to eternal life with his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ on Monday, March 5, 2012. He died during emergency surgery to repair a ruptured aorta. He lived a remarkable life and impacted the world at large through his more than 50 years of service as a missionary.
He was born in Detroit, Mich. in 1936. His special interest in foreign missions began during his childhood years. After graduating from high school he attended Wayne State University and obtained a Bachelor's degree in Anthropology. He joined Wycliffe Bible Translators in 1961 (www.wycliffebibletranslators.org), after obtaining a second Bachelor's degree in Theology from Detroit Bible College. He was assigned to the Michoacan Aztecs, a tribe in Southern Mexico where he served alongside Bill Sisco and was a single missionary for five years. His plans changed after meeting Patricia Cowan, another single missionary with Wycliffe, and they were married in 1968. They were sent to the village of Cuatenahuatl, Hidalgo, in the mountains of Northern Mexico to begin analyzing and translating the Nahuatl language spoken by the Huasteca Aztecs. Dick and Pat served faithfully among this three dialect language group of over 750,000 indigenous people. During the nearly forty years that they were actively on the mission field they accomplished a great deal. Their translation work includes Reading Primers, two New Testament translations, a language course, a third New Testament with Psalms and Proverbs, a book of 250 hymns, The Jesus Film in Nahuatl (www.jesusfilm.org) and ultimately complete Bibles in each of three dialects of the Nahuatl language. The Bellers were also actively involved in medical outreach through a primitive medical clinic and more recently through the organization and translation for short-term medical caravans from the U.S. to their area. Dick loved to translate for these short term medical caravans as they treated monolingual Nahuatl speakers. After his wife's death in 2007, Dick continued his work and in January, 2012, completed a new 768 page hymnal in the Nahuatl language. Pat's memorial funds covered the printing of 8,000 copies of this hymnal and it is en route to the coast of Mexico where Aztec Indian workers will transport and distribute it to the Nahuatl people. God will be greatly glorified as these hymns of praise resound throughout the hundreds of Nçhuatl towns and villages.
Dick was known throughout the tribe and especially the Mexican city of Huejutla, Hidalgo, for his generous unselfish spirit, and quick wit. He loved translating Reader's Digest jokes into Spanish and Nahuatl as a way to build friendships. People around the world have been touched by his life, his humor, and his compassion for people of all races. He and Pat dedicated their lives to Bible translation and as a result Nahuatl speakers throughout the Mexican states of Hidalgo, Puebla, San Luis Potosi and Veracruz have God's word written in the language of their heart. During these many years Dick has also been preparing a Nahuatl language dictionary. And this resource will be published in the years to come and be a guide for those who desire to learn and understand the beautiful Nahuatl language.
We, Dick and Pat Beller's children, want to express our deepest recognition of the many pastors, churches (especially Cornerstone Bible Church in Lilburn, GA; Covenant Community Church in Detroit, MI; Suburban Bible Church in Highland, IN; and Grace Bible Church in Dallas, TX), family and friends that have given sacrificially to this great ministry to reach the precious Nahuatl-speaking people with the Gospel. These accomplishments and the extension of God's love was only made possible by an extraordinary team of support in the U.S. "We must also share with you Dick's favorite Missionary Biography Series called Christian Heroes: Then and Now" written by authors Janet and Geoff Benge published by YWAM Publishing (www.ywampublishing.org). He also loved playing Scrabble, Rook and Rummikub with his children and grandchildren. Many nights he tucked his grandchildren into their beds telling them his own "Christina" stories that carefully interwove their unique personalities with morals and truths from the Scriptures.
Dick was preceded in death by a grandson, Evan Jon Beller, and his wife Pat, who went home to heaven in 2007.
Survivors include their three children: Richard David Beller, Michael Jon Beller, and Tami Beller Gaddis and their spouses, Heather McPhail Beller, Molly Smith Beller, and Richard Maxwell Gaddis, and now twenty-three grandchildren. He is also survived by his brother Charles (Dale) Beller and Dale's wife Marilyn Beller both of Tucson, Ariz. and his sister June Beller Maitland of Commerce, MI.
A memorial service will be held on Saturday March 10 in Jefferson, at 4 p.m., with visitation from 3 to 4 p.m. The service will be held at Evans Funeral Home, 1350 Winder Highway, Jefferson GA 30549. He will be laid to rest beside his wife and partner of 39 years, Patricia Cowan Beller.
Memorial gifts can be sent to Cornerstone Bible Church, 869 Cole Drive, Lilburn, GA, 30047, for the Nahuatl hymnal distribution expenses. Cards for the family can be sent to Dick Beller's daughter, Tami Beller Gaddis, 3606 Plantation Ct., Louisville, TN 37777.
The Beller children ask for your prayers as they continue their parents' legacy and desire to honor and serve God with their lives.
Evans Funeral Home, Jefferson, is in charge of arrangements