On This Day in UB History: August 8 (Oneta Sewell Thone)

Oneta Sewell Thone

Oneta Sewell Thone

Oneta Sewell Thone, RN, passed away on August 8, 1979, after an illness of several months. She was a member of the UB church in Jerry City, Ohio.

Oneta served three terms as a missionary nurse in Sierra Leone. She arrived there in 1944, in the midst of World War II, and ran the Gbangbaia dispensary for three years with the help of a small national staff.

She returned to Sierra Leone for a second term 1949-1952, during which she was instrumental in opening a dispensary at Mattru–the beginnings of Mattru Hospital. She was soon joined by another RN, Juanita Smith, a United Brethren preacher’s kid from Illinois whose sister, Leora Ackerman, was then serving as a UB missionary in Honduras.

Oneta and Juanita held daily clinics at Mattru and in surrounding villages. Recognizing that a full-fledged hospital would require a lot of nurses, they started a nursing school in 1950 with three students, all of them graduates of our Minnie Mull School for Girls in Bonthe. After two years of training, all three girls transferred to a hospital in Freetown to obtain their midwifery certification. Meanwhile, other Minnie Mull students enrolled.

Oneta Sewell concluded her second term in 1952. She returned for one year, 1965-1966, in response to a special appeal). She spent 15 years working at a clinic in Kansas run by Dr. Leslie Huntley, who had served as the UB doctor at Gbangbaia prior to Oneta’s arrival. Then she moved back to Ohio, got married to Walter Thone in 1973, and spent four years, 1971-1975, as president of the Sandusky Branch of the Women’s Missionary Association.

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