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ABSTRACT: Lufkin-born missionary Gary Sloan drowned off the Mexican coast on June 18, 1999, along with his eldest daughter, Carla, and two other Americans, John Weems and Joy Love Murphy.

The Pacific undercurrent off Playa Linda ('Pretty Beach') in Madero, in the state of Chiapas, in Mexico, claimed the lives of thirty-seven-year-old Gary Lynn Sloan, his eleven-year-old daughter, Carla Sloan, nineteen-year-old John Weems of Nacogdoches, and Joy Love Murphy, also nineteen, from Alabama.

In this article which includes photos of him, we remember Lufkin's own Gary Lynn Sloan.

  • We Mourn Losing Him,

  • Yet We Rejoice at His Promotion, and

  • We Are Inspired by His Example

We Remember

Gary Lynn Sloan

Gary Lynn Sloan, in Brownsville, Texas, May, 1983, about three days after he'd graduated from college. He's seen here at the international bridge entering Mexico with a student missionary group. Gary Sloan, 1982, in the SFA student center, pigging out on Mexican food, along with other members of Dr. Janet Dirlam's Spanish class
Born in the summer of 1961, Gary Sloan died a month before his thirty-eighth birthday.

After visiting Mexico as a teenager, Gary liked that country so much that he stayed there the year after he graduated from college. He kept returning to Mexico throughout the remainder of his life. There, in Mexico, he stayed, studied, preached, and found a wife. He continued to return there on numerous missionary journeys. Sadly, it was there, in Mexico, that he died.

In honor of his committment to the Mexican people, Gary's mortal body is now buried there, alongside his daughter, Carla, who died with her father and two young students.

According to his uncle, his group of missionaries were in the midst of a birthday celebration for one of Gary's children when the ocean's undertow, stirred up no doubt by Hurricane Adrian off the Mexican Pacific Coast, carried little Carla Sloan out to sea. Gary Sloan, Joy Love Murphy, and John Weems drowned during the failed attempt to rescue the child.
This is how I'll remember Gary: smiling.

Gary always smiled. He always smiled; he was an empathetic listener; and he never wasted his words. Maybe that's why everybody liked him: he was always more interested in the other person than he was in himself.

Gary was also a man who lived his faith, quietly, without flaunting it. He was a man whom I never heard utter a cuss word or raise his voice in anger. He was a man whom every other man could trust alone with his wife or his daughters.

He was a man who managed to be meek, not-puffed-up, yet never wimpy.

Gary "was all boy," but he was good. And he was good because he chose to be, yet he didn't "lord" his righteousness over other people [like me] who were less perfect than him. He was, in every respect, an honest, upright, virtuous young man, who lived in an age when virtue was frowned upon. He was the kind of man whom every mother wanted her daughters to marry.

Gary Sloan:

  • was a missionary to Mexico for almost two decades;

  • was born in Lufkin, TX;

  • graduated high school in Crosby, Texas;

  • graduated Cum Laude (with honors) from Stephen F. Austin State University in May, 1983, receiving his Bachelor of Arts in English, Spanish, and Physical Education, with a Texas teaching certificate;

  • finished his religious education at seminary after completing his secular education;

  • was also, by his own admission, a good mechanic;

  • wasn't the best of spellers, even though he was always on the Dean's List;

  • had the ability of being able to do the best job possible in the shortest amount of time;

  • was loved, admired, and respected by all who knew him;

  • was, during the year I shared college classes with him, my best and most-trusted friend.

Lynn Allen Sloan, Gary's father, was Lufkin born and bred. After the Lufkin paper mill transferred him to its sister mill in Crosby, Texas, Lynn Allen worked there until his retirement, shortly before his death. Lynn Allen Sloan died of cancer in his middle forties. Gary Sloan was the
  • husband of Gloria and the father of four children;
  • son of Lynn Allen Sloan of Lufkin, TX;
  • grandson of Harvey Sloan, Sr. (deceased), and Mrs. Sloan, (recently deceased), who resided in the family's log cabin at the intersection of FM 326 and the Old Ewing Road in Lufkin, Texas, caddy- cornered from my grampa's farm. She died at the age of 101. (The long cabin is now for sale.)

Gary remained Lufkin's own, in spite of the fact that he graduated high school some hundred miles south of there. Even after his family moved to Crosby, Gary visited his grandmother in Lufkin often. When Gary first enrolled at SFA, he again lived for a time in Lufkin with his grandmother in the log cabin.
Created June 22, 1999
By Susan Pebworth Armstrong
Last Update: November 21, 2004
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Photos by Susan P. Armstrong
Permisssion to Reprint Granted
Gary Lynn Sloan is buried in the city of Tapachula in the Mexican state of Chiapas, near the Guatemalan border.

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