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John Bendor-Samuel
1929 – 2011
Former Executive Director of SIL International Dies at Age 81

John Bendor-Samuel John Bendor-Samuel, 81, former Executive Director of SIL International, died 6 January 2011 as the result of injuries from an auto accident near High Wycombe, United Kingdom. Dr. Bendor-Samuel received a Ph.D. in Linguistics from London University in 1958. His long and distinguished career with SIL International began in administration with the SIL training school near London in 1954. His overseas work started in Peru where he worked as a linguist/translator in 1955 and in 1958 he began linguistic and translation work in Brazil. However, in 1962, Dr. Bendor-Samuel launched his instrumental work in West Africa, paving the way for SIL to begin language development and Bible translation work there. He helped found the West Africa Linguistic Society, and served as Editor of the Journal of West African Languages from 1982-1994. He led SIL’s work in Africa from 1971 to 1983, held the post of Executive Vice President of SIL International from 1984 to 1991, and served on the SIL Board of Directors from 1993 to 1999. Most recently, Dr. Bendor-Samuel was researching, documenting and archiving SIL’s work in Africa.

Speaking on behalf of the worldwide staff of SIL, Freddy Boswell, Executive Director, stated, “Few people have impacted global language development and Bible translation over the last half century as did our beloved friend and colleague, Dr. John Bendor-Samuel. Today, we deeply mourn his sudden passing, mindful of the tireless and sacrificial contributions which he made to the language communities of the earth. We pray for God's peace and comfort over his family.”

In addition to his work with SIL, Dr. Bendor-Samuel served in leadership with Wycliffe Bible Translators UK, Wycliffe International, and was a co-founder of the Forum of Bible Agencies International.

For a list of some of Dr. Bendor-Samuel’s published works go to