Over the years, Leo and Margaret Waldrop have been a lot of things to a lot of people.
He’s been a summer missionary, a journeyman overseas with the Foreign Mission Board (now International Mission Board) and a director of missions.
She’s been a music teacher and an assistant to the director of a seminary campus.
And together, they’ve been IMB missionaries for more than 25 years to Suriname and Curacao.
“We’ve said several times that we don’t regret a minute of the time we’ve spent getting to know and love people and share with them,” Leo Waldrop said.
Because of the way they invested all those minutes, the Northwest Baptist Historical Society honored the Waldrops with the 2022 Heritage Award on Nov. 15 during the Northwest Baptist Convention meeting in Grand Mound, Washington.
“Leo and Margaret have positively impacted all those who have come to know them,” said Mike Kuykendall, president of the Northwest Baptist Historical Society. “Their passion for serving the Lord and for ministering to those around them is largely due to a calling that was planted in each of them from their earliest days.”
Leo Waldrop was in Oregon during those early days — his dad, a bivocational pastor, moved the family there from Texas in 1959. While in his senior year at Southern Oregon University, he was chosen as the Baptist student ministry’s first overseas summer missionary.
He went to Guyana, then went back as a Journeyman after graduation.
“That’s how we got into missions,” Leo Waldrop said of him and his wife, whom he met when he got back.
On the field
After they married, she moved back with him to that region, and they spent more than 25 years in Suriname and Curacao. Leo Waldrop worked to start churches and develop discipleship and leadership training programs, and Margaret Waldrop translated thousands of pages of Lifeway materials into the Antillean heart language, Papiamentu. She also translated the first hymn book in the language.
When the Waldrops were back in the Pacific Northwest on stateside assignments over the years, they served in a variety of roles. At one point, he served as interim director of Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary’s (now Gateway Seminary) Portland campus, and at another as interim pastor of Hudson Park Baptist Church in Rainier, Oregon.
The couple came back to the U.S. permanently in 1997 and began to serve in nonprofit work. Several years later, he became director of missions for Southwest Washington, and she became the administrative assistant for Gateway Seminary’s Pacific Northwest Campus.
“Margaret also distinguished herself by enthusiastically participating in the life and ministries of the convention,” Kuykendall said. “Drawing upon her missions and ministry experience, Margaret led VBS training sessions, hosted various parties and convention events, and unfailingly promoted missions and education in the WMU and other venues.”
In 2006, they retired and moved to the Glorieta Christian Conference Center in New Mexico, where they fulfilled a lifelong dream by volunteering in multiple areas of service.
Four years later, they moved to the Birmingham, Alabama, area to be near the family of their daughter, Amy. The Waldrops’ younger son, Jeremy, also lives in Alabama, and their older son, Jeff, serves as vice provost for the university libraries and as associate professor of church history at Mercer University in Macon, Georgia.
The Waldrops continue to serve in leadership roles in their Sunday School class at North Shelby Baptist Church.
“If one were to summarize the lives and work of Leo and Margaret, an appropriate phrase might be, ‘His Way, Mine,’” Kuykendall said, referring to the name of their missionary memoir.