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Veteran Bible Translator Dies in Cameroon


December 10, 2012


Wycliffe Bible Translators sadly announces the death of Karl Grebe, a Canadian linguist, translator and consultant who served the people of Cameroon, Central Africa, in Bible translation for more than 40 years.

Grebe, 70, died suddenly Dec. 9 in Cameroon. The cause of death has not yet been determined.

Born in Germany, Grebe immigrated to Canada as a young man. With his first wife, Winnie, he began working with Cameroon’s Nso language group in 1971 to develop a written form of the language. Following the publication of the Lamnso New Testament in 1990, Grebe continued to consult on the translation of the Lamnso Old Testament, as well as several other language projects, in co-operation with the Cameroon Association for Bible Translation and Literacy [CABTAL].

During their time in Cameroon, the couple developed a regional training centre in the city of Bamenda, where a large number of Cameroonian languages are concentrated. Grebe also served for two years as director of the Cameroon Branch of SIL, Wycliffe’s main partner for training, language research, translation and literacy. He played a key role in founding CABTAL, as well as Wycliffe Canada’s “Partners with Nationals” program—a project-funding organization now known as OneBook.

In 2003, Winnie’s declining health forced the couple to return to Canada. Grebe continued to consult with Cameroonian translators, reviewing their drafts by email and making periodic trips to Cameroon. Following Winnie’s death from ovarian cancer in 2009, he returned to Cameroon to continue his work as a translation consultant. In 2011, Grebe married Frida Sunjoh, a Cameroonian pediatrician and longtime friend of the couple who once asked them to pray that she would find a Christian husband.

Grebe is survived by his wife Frida, two sons, Charles Grebe and Jonathan Grebe, and their families.

More information will be published on our website as it becomes available. To learn more about Karl and Winnie Grebe’s work in Bible translation, see the Fall 2003 issue of Word Alive magazine.

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