The Reverend Fred Robert Bunker (1859-1946) was a Congregational minister and a missionary to Africa. In 1887, Rev. Bunker graduated from Olivet College, Olivet, Michigan, and was ordained in 1889. Through his involvement with the Student Volunteer Movement of the Young Men's Christian Association, Bunker met Isabel Helen Richards (1865-1950), a student volunteer for the Young Women's Christian Association. They were married in 1891. Under the auspices of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, the Bunkers immediately sailed to Africa to serve as missionaries. The Bunkers were initially stationed at Mt. Silinda, Southern Rhodesia, where they remained for many years. Following their assignment at Mt. Silinda, the Bunkers relocated in 1904 to Beira, Mozambique and in 1911 to Durban, South Africa. In 1917, after nearly three decades of service at various mission stations in Southern Africa and Mozambique, the Bunkers returned to the United States. The Bunker family resided in Oberlin, Ohio and Wilton, Connecticut, as well as various other locations throughout New England. After his return to the U.S. and even after his retirement in 1940, Fred Bunker continued to work with the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions to promote and to fund mission work in Africa. After his death in 1946, his daughter, Edith Bunker Davis (1900-1991), carried on the family's commitment to mission work. Davis, with help from several other family members, created the Bunker Family Scholarship Fund which provided financial assistance to young scholars in Africa. She also became involved in supporting African students who had come to the U.S. to pursue their education. The evolution of missionary work in Southern Africa, due greatly to the efforts of the Bunker family and others similarly focused, is traced through the correspondence and writings of the Bunker family.
Sources Consulted: Fred R. Bunker Collection, Talledega College Historical Collections.Savery Library, Talladega, Alabama 35160