Holman Carl Currie 柯爾義 (1918 - 2009) and
Eva Longway-Currie (1919 - 2015)
by Bruce W. Lo, 2013
Basic biographical data
Holman Carl Currie was born in December 28, 1918 in Washburn, Maine; died January 3, 2009 in Yucaipa, California.
Eva Longway-Currie was born on March 20, 1919 in Bangkok, Thailand.
Parentage: Father John Tracey Currie, mother Fae Easler Currie.
Siblings: John & Fae Currie had four children: Greta , John, Carl , and Zenas . Carl Curries also had a half brother, Ralph, and half sister, Naomi from his step mother.
Marriage: Carl Currie married Eva Longway on June 14, 1939 at South Lancaster
Children: Carl and Eva Currie have three children, from oldest to the youngest, they are: David Currie, Ruth Anne Currie-Soule, and Laura Fae Currie-Nyirady.
Education: Carl Currie graduated from Atlantic Union College in Theology, and received an MDiv from Washington SDA Seminary.
Highlights of Service: Pastor & Mrs Carl Currie devoted 50+ years of their served in four continents: Asia, Africa, North and Central America, 26 years of which were in the mission field of China. Most of his service in China was in administration, serving as mission president in Taiwan, president of Southeast Asian Union Mission, and Chair of the East Asia Committee in Hong Kong. He also led the Zambesi Union in Africa when the former British colony of Rhodesia became the independent state of Zimbabwe. In addition to his service in China and Zimbabwe, he also served as Union President in Singapore and Bermuda.
Figure 1: Carl Currie's family in the 1930s, with parents John and Fae Currie, and siblings from left to right, Zenas, Carl, Greta, and John.
Holman Carl Currie was born in a farm in Washburn, Maine, three days after Christmas on December 28, 1918. It was a cold winter that year, but he was welcome by his father John Tracey Currie, and mother Fae Easler Currie and elder sister Greta, and elder brother John. Later on another brother, Zenas, joined the family. After his own mother died, his father remarried again. Another brother, Ralph, and sister, Naomi, were added to the family.
His family lived on a 200-acre potato farm, in Presquei Isl not far from the village of Aroostook (now Presquei Isl is the commercial center and the largest city of Aroostook County, ME). It was there that Carl learned to do his share of farm chores at an early age, and was milking cows by the time he was five years of age. His mother, Fae Currie, was herself a Seventh-day Adventist, and determined to bring her children up according to her faith.
Eva Longway-Currie was born in Bangkok, Thailand, on March 20, 1919, to the missionary family of Ezra and Inez Longway. She grew up in the mission compounds in Hankow (now Wuhan), Hubei, and Yencheng, Henan. According to Eva Longway-Currie, during a recent interview3, she distinctively remembered how the children in the mission compound enjoyed throwing stones into the well. But one day, when she was about five or six, one of the bricks accidentally landed on the back of her head. She cried and her Chinese amma comforted her. Her amma had a long plait, she loved to hang-on to the plait and let her amma swing her around. Eva Longway studied at the Far Eastern Academy in Shanghai, and went to Atlantic Union College for her college studies.
Education and Conversion
Carl Currie attended a multi-grade elementary school two miles from his home. He was baptized at the age of 13, the same year that he represented his class to give the graduation speech. However, his father, John Currie, accepted Christ and was baptized a few years later when Carl was 17.
He then attended the Washburn High School for 4 years, where he was active in the school's athletic program in basket ball and base ball. During his senior year, he was elected president of the National Honor Society and gave the main address at his graduation. At that time he was offered a scholarship to Drake University. Instead, he chose to attend Atlantic Union College, a Seventh-day Adventist school in South Lancaster, Massachusetts, where he enrolled in the theology course, hoping to become an evangelist. He was the first student to be awarded an AUC scholarship. At college, he worked at the book binding and publishing press factory, and stayed at the factory dormitory, which was dubbed "The Silo" at that time.
It was during the time that Carl Currie was in Atlantic Union College that Elder Ezra L. Longway, a missionary to China, brought his family from Shanghai on furlough at South Lancaster. Before long Carl Currie was dating their oldest daughter, Eva Longway. By the end of the school year, before she returned to China with her family, they became engaged. They kept the mail busy over the next year. One year later in 1939, at the end of Carl's junior year, Eva returned, and they were married by the president of the college, Eric Jones. It was interesting to note that, Ezra Longway met his wife Inez at Atlantic Union College. Their daughter, Eva met her husband, Carl Currie at Atlantic Union College. And Eva and Carl's youngest daughter, Laura met her husband Stephen Nyirady at Atlantic Union College3.
From his wife, Eva, and from his father-in-law, E.L. Longway, Carl Currie found out a lot about the mission field in China. This sparked his interest to become a foreign missionary himself. During his final year, before he graduated, he wrote a letter to Elder N.F. Brewer, the then president of China Division, expressing his interest in mission work in that country. Within a week, Elder Brewer wrote back and invited him to join the work in China. Carl Currie believed that this was the leading of the Lord, and responded positively to the call.
Mission Work in China during The War
The official call to serve as a missionary in China came immediately after his graduation from the Seventh-day Adventist Mission Board . Carl and Eva Currie, both were just 21 years of age, sailed from San Francisco in August, 1940 for China. But when their ship arrived in Shanghai they were advised to return to the United States because of the political and war situation. Many veteran China missionaries had already left or were about to leave China for US. However, believing it was God's calling, they chose to stay. After spending a few days with the Longways, Carl and Eva moved to the missionary quarters at the Shanghai Sanitarium and Hospital ground and began learning the Chinese language. Three months later, however, the war situation worsened. Leaders at the China Division decided that it was necessary for them to transfer five missionary families and four teacher families to Burma (Myanmar). They brought with them their Chinese language teacher to Burma so that they could continue their language study in the hills of Kalaw. It was there that Carl and Eva Currie's eldest son, David was born.
On December 7, 1941, Japan attached Pearl Harbor and United States was drawn into the Pacific side of World War II. The American Consulate in Rangoon, Burma, advised immediate evacuation from Burma. But even as they were planning for evacuation, the Japanese military had begun to bomb Burma in April of 1942. Mrs. Eva Currie and her son, together with women and children of other missionary families were evacuated by plane to western China. But Carl Currie and other male members of the mission group chose to drive the mission trucks up the Burma Road, 2,000 miles of the most tortuous road ever built. There were not service stations along the road. They had to carry their gasoline supply with them on the trip. At night, they slept on the ground right under the truck. During that trip Carl became infected with typhus due to flee bites and spent three of those weeks desperately ill at the back seat of his father-in-law, Ezra Longway's car. A Chinese nurse, Chen Alloy, tried to take care of him during the trip. But, his wife, Eva Currie, did not know about her husband's sickness until Carl reached Chongqing a few months later.
Figure 2: Carl Currie as a student at AUC ca 1937
Figure 3: Wedding of Carl and Eva Currie in 1939
Figure 4: Carl and Eva Graduation from Atlantic Union College in 1940
Figure 5: Carl and Eva Currie with their first son, David, and Eva's father, Elder E.L. Longway, in Chongqing year?
Figure 6: The family of Carl and Eva Currie. The children are from left to right: Ruth, Laura, and David. ca 1948
Upon reaching Chongqing, the war-time capital of China, Carl Currie received medical treatment. After several months, he regained his health and went to Jiangxi to become the president of Jiangxi Mission. But the Japanese army was advancing toward that province also and the situation was not very safe for Americans. He moved his family to Changsha, Hunan. The transportation between Changsha and Jiangxi was very difficult. It usually took three days of boat and train rides to get from one place to the other. At that time, Elder Jerald Christensen, president of the Hunan Mission, and his family also lived in Changsha. Carl Currie and Jerald Christensen would take turn to attend to church business to ensure that there would always be a male member at home in case of emergencies.
In September, 1943, Carl and Eva Currie's eldest daughter, Ruth Anne, was born, during a bombing raid by the Japanese air force. In the same year around Christmas time, Carl Currie took a 10-day journey to travel to Chongqing to attend the Annual General Meeting of the China Division. He was ordained during that meeting session.
In 1944, the Japanese army attacked Changsha. The Curries barely escaped by taking a boat and a coal train. Before they were able to reach Hangyang, Eva Currie got really ill. Fortunately, they were able to find for her a hospital operated by another church in Hangyang. After that the whole family were able to catch an US military plane to evacuate them to Kunming, Yunnan, southwest of China. There they met up with Elder and Mrs. Doyle Barnett. Three month later, Carl Currie was appointed president of the Guizhou Mission in southwest China. Within a few more months, they were compelled to evacuate again due to the advancing Japanese army. This time they moved again to Chongqing in Sichuan province. Carl Currie was appointed the Executive Secretary of the West Sichuan Mission.
At the end of the War in 1945, Elder Carl Currie was appointed the president of the West Sichuan Mission until 1947'. The family stationed in Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan Province. It was there that their second daughter (3rd child), Laura Fae, was born. During his first seven-year of service in war-torn China during WWII, Elder Carl Currie moved his family ten times between 1941 and 1948, often evacuating just ahead of the Japanese advance into China. His time in China included pioneer missionary work in some areas, and administrative work in others.
Post-war Mission Service in China & Far East
After a year of furlough in America, Carl Currie and his family returned to Shanghai, only to find that internal war had broken out between the Communist party and the Nationalist government. Rather than returning to the US Carl chose to take the family to the island of Formosa (Taiwan) to start pioneer missionary work as there were no formal mission organization in Taiwan at that time. In December 1948, he became the first Taiwan SDA Mission's president, a post he held until 1954. Arriving Taiwan with him in 1948 were: Alva Appel, who became the treasurer of Taiwan Mission; Pastor Lim Punshen (林本善), and Pastor Li TeinJae (李天遮). During Carl Currie's tenure as president of the Taiwan Mission, the Bible Correspondence School was established in Taizhong in 1951; China Training Institute (now Taiwan Adventist College) was established in 1952. Taiwan Sanitarium and Hospital (now Taiwan Adventist Hospital) was opened in 1955. And the Taiwan San Yu (三育) Bible School was established in Pindong (平束) in 1961.
Figure 7: Carl and Eva Currie's family in Singapore, about 1957. Children standing from left to right: Ruth, David, and Laura.
Figure 8: Carl Currie welcoming Madam Chiang Kai Shek at the opening of the Taiwan Adventist Hospital
Figure 9: Carl Currie dressed in the costume of the Taiwan Mountain Tribesman
In 1955, he took a 1 year furlough in the United States, during which time he completed his MDiv at the SDA Seminary in Washington, DC. After graduation, he accepted the call to be president of the Southeast Asia Union Mission with headquarters in Singapore. While there, he began the mission works in Laos and Cambodia. He also established the Chinese Secondary School in Singapore.
In 1960 he returned to Taiwan as president of the Taiwan and North Taiwan Mission for another 6 years. During his years of service in Taiwan Carl Currie opened up the mission work not only in the cities on the plains of Taiwan but also to the mountain tribes of this island, where the gospel had not reached before. Particularly worthy of mention, are the Paiwuan (排湾) tribe and the Five-Mountains (五大山地) tribes. Eva Currie3 recalled that, reaching the mountain people was not an easy task, as there were no maps to indicate where were the villages. They followed the mountain paths by foot or on bicycles, falling into the creeks many times. From 1948 when he first arrived at Taiwan, to 1966 when he left, the membership in Taiwan Mission increased from the single digit to about 4,500; the number of Sabbath School increased to over 100; while the Sabbath School attendance reached 12,000.
Pastoral Work in US
In 1966, after completing 26 years of service in China, Taiwan, and Southeast Asia, the Curries decided to move back to the US on permanent return. In the US he pastored the Bridgeport and Danbury churches in Connecticut and had the pleasure of performing the wedding ceremonies of both of his daughters, Ruth to Victor Chant and Laura to Stephen Nyirady.
Bermuda, Africa, and China Again
But only after a year in Bridgeport, the church asked him to go to Bermuda where he served as president of the SDA Bermuda Mission for two and a half years.
In 1969, he was invited by the General Conference of SDA to move to Africa to be president of the Zambesi Union, with headquarters in Bulawayo, Rhodesia. In Africa Carl Currie endured another war, leading the church through the tumultuous years of the county's struggle for independence transitioning from Rhodesia to Zimbabwe. During his 14 years in Africa, church membership increased manifold. He also conducted mass evangelistic meetings leading many to Christ - realizing his long time dream since college time to become an evangelist.
By that time he had completed 45 years of service to the church and all but two-and-one-half years were outside of the United States. However, as he was thinking of retirement, once again the church asked him to return to China and serve as chairman of the East Asia Administrative Committee in Hong Kong. He accepted the call and served as the Chair of East Asia Administrative Committee for five years, from 1985 to 1989, overseeing the radio broadcast of the Three-Angels message to that vast land of China, utilizing the AWR (Advent World Radio) facilities at the Island of Guam.
Active Retirement Years
By 1990 he had completed 50 years of active service for the church and it was time to formally retire. During the 1990 General Conference Session at Indianapolis, Carl Currie was honored for his exceptional service to the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
He then moved to Collegedale, Tennessee, where he served as one of the assistant pastors of the Collegedale SDA church for a few years and then was requested by the Georgia Cumberland Conference to revitalize a small church in Summerville, Georgia. He pastored that church for 4 years and increased its membership from 8 to 35. It was in Tennessee that Carl and Eva became homeowner for the first time. They resided there for 14 years surrounded by family and making new friends.
When his son-in-law, Dr. Steven Nyirady and daughter Laura Currie Nyirady received an invitation to serve at Loma Linda University in 2004, he and his wife decided to move with them and they have lived in Yucaipa, California, since that time, where he continued his retirement service for an additional 2 years as one of the associate pastors of the Calimesa SDA church.
On January 3, 2009, Holman Carl Currie, age 90, a resident of Yucaipa, CA, died from complication following hip surgery. He was survived by:
his wife, Eva Longway-Currie, of Yucaipa;
son, David Currie, a retired businessman and wife Nina Currie, a retired businesswoman of Roseville, CA.
daughter Ruth Soule, an elementary educator, and husband Duane Soule, an electrical engineer of MacDonald, Tennessee;
daughter, Laura Nyirady, Assistant Professor of Nursing, and husband Steve Nyirady, Associate Professor of Microbiology, both of Loma Linda University, California;
11 grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren.
A memorial service was held on Friday, January 9, 2009 at the Loma Linda Chinese SDA church, for this much loved and well-respected veteran missionary, who guided the Chinese Adventist church under the Lord's leading throughout those difficulty war years in China during the mid-1900's.
Eva Currie lived another six years after laying her husband to rest in 2009. She passed away peacefully following a short illness on Sunday, October 11, 2015.
Figure 10: Flyer advertising "The Present Truth" evangelistic meetinsg in Tainwan featuring Elder Carl Currie who preached in mandarin (Putonghua). The Chinese characters on the second line state that the topic of the night was "The Mark of The Beast".
Figure 11: Elder Carl Currie baptized a young Chinese man in Taiwan in 1988.
Figure 12: Elder Carl Currie in front of the sign of the Eastern Asia Administrative Committee, ca 1986
Figure 13: Carl and Eva Curries celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary 1989.
Figure 14: Elder Carl Currie and Mrs Eva Currie in 1990
Figure 15: Elder and Mrs. Currie wtih another veteran missionary, Mrs. Helen Lee.
Figure 16: Elder and Mrs. Currie celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary.
1. Currie, Eva Ruth (1999), Our 60th Anniversary, A poem written by Eva Currie for Carl Currie on the occasion of their 60th Anniversary, private communication.
2. Currie, H.C. (2002), Autobiography of Holman C. Currie, in Chinese SDA History, Samuel Young (Editor), Chinese Union Mission of Seventh-day Adventist: Hong Kong. (original article in Chinese)
3. Lo, Bruce (2013), Notes from an Interview with Eva Currie, Laura Nyirady, and Stephen Nyirady, Yucaipa, CA, August 26, 2013.
4. Mann, Shirley (2013), Email correspondence re the life of Carl Currie, private communication.
5. Roth, D.A. (2009), H. Carl Currie, Missionary Pioneer and Union President, Dies, in Adventist Review.com, retrieved 7/4/2013 from http://www.adventistreview.org/article/2324/archives/issue-2009-1501/01cn-carl-currie-90-missionary-pioneer-and-union-president-dies
6. Dignity Memorial, “Life Sketch of Eva Ruth Longway Currie”, Memorial Service October 17, 2015, accessed November 23, 2018, https://www.dignitymemorial.com/obituaries/colton-ca/eva-currie-6632933.
Last updated 7/21/2020 by B. Lo