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Dishonest persons are continuing to use the tragic death of Robert and Ruth Chapman in illegitimate money-making scams. A current ploy uses fictitious names but claims a connection to the airplane crash (off the coast of Côte d'Ivoire in January 2000—which killed the SIL Africa Area Director and his wife) as the basis for fraudulent solicitation of funds via e-mail.

There are no fund-raising activities, nor have there been any, by SIL International or the Chapman family related to this incident.

Africa Area Director and wife die in plane crash


Robert and Ruth Chapman

DALLAS, TEXAS, February 7, 2000 – The bodies of Africa Area Director Robert Chapman, 45, and his wife Ruth, 52, have been identified and are expected to be repatriated to Canada this week. The couple died in the crash of Kenya Airways Flight 431 in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, January 30. The plane plunged into the Atlantic Ocean just after takeoff from Abidjan. The Chapmans were reportedly returning to Nairobi, Kenya, via Lagos, Nigeria, after wrapping up a one-month tour of African countries.

“We announce this news with great sadness and sorrow,” said Executive Director Dr. John R. Watters. “We deeply mourn the loss of Bob and Ruth. They were dear friends and colleagues.”

The Chapmans, originally from Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, served with SIL since 1983. Their career was primarily spent in Cameroon, Africa. In June 1999 they relocated to Nairobi, Kenya, when Mr. Chapman became director of SIL in Africa, overseeing the work of some 1,000 field workers in 24 countries.

Watters stated, “They had made a vigorous start in their new roles over the past six months. We anticipated their significant contributions to the SIL work in Africa. Their deaths are a tremendous loss to the organization and to each of us personally. The challenge will be great to find the person to follow Bob in this significant leadership role.”

News of the crash shocked the couple's family, friends, and co-workers around the world. In a previous family tragedy in 1989, the Chapman's two sons, Ross, 10 and Timothy, 6, both died on the same day of malaria. The Chapman's daughter Erin, 19, is a university student in Canada. She is the sole remaining member of her immediate family. A memorial service in Canada is scheduled for Saturday February 12.