By Meghann Heinrich (Staff Writer)
Carl J. Houmann ’54 passed away in 2017, leaving behind a legacy of service and devotion to mission work. Born and raised in Denmark where he briefly worked as a physical therapist,
Dr. Houmann emigrated to the United States to achieve his dream of studying medicine at the College of Medical Evangelists where he graduated from medical school in 1954. A few short years later, in 1957, Dr. Houmann began five years of mission service in Ethiopia. In Ethiopia he cared for the
impoverished and wealthy alike while serving as chief of staff at Zewditu Memorial Hospital in the capital city of Addis Ababa. While working there, Dr. Houmann recognized the need to start training Ethiopian physicians to serve at Zewditu Memorial Hospital. To address this problem he pioneered a scholarship program that provided funds to send Ethiopian students to the United States and pay for their medical training.
One of the recipients of this scholarship was Fekede Gemechu ’70, who returned to Ethiopia in 1992 to fulfill his promise to Dr. Houmann to serve at Zewditu Memorial Hospital. Unfortunately, the political climate at that time prevented Dr. Gemechu from working at the hospital. However, he and his family found another way to serve the people of Addis Ababa by establishing the Kalala Learning Village (KLV), in partnership with the International
Medical and Academic Alliance (IMAA), just outside the capital city. Today the KLV is instrumental in providing education and health care access to Kalala community members of all ages. Dr. Gemechu attributes this success to the vision and faith of Dr. Houmann, “…the story of the KLV is really the story of the vision and mission of the Houmann family. I just happen to be a very fortunate recipient of their kindness and generosity.”
Following his five years of service in Ethiopia, Dr. Houmann returned to the U.S. where he practiced family medicine in Washington D.C. until his retirement at age 70. Dr. Houmann is remembered for his kindness, generosity, and humble service to Jesus. He always took whatever time was needed to listen to his patients, making him famously late for patients on his schedule—though they were happy to wait. His service in Ethiopia remained the most meaningful of his medical career. He was an active member of the Filwoha Seventh-day Adventist Church in Addis Ababa and it was in this church he constructed an organ from a kit, frequently playing for church services. His interests spanned from classical music to flying. The latter sparked from his experience in the cockpit of DC-3 aircraft while serving as the official physician to Ethiopian Airlines.