Atlantic City, New Jersey, saw the arrival of Albert Thomas Platt on May 17, 1927. He was the 12-pound (ouch!) firstborn son of Raymond and Florence Platt. The family lived in Absecon, a town about 7 miles away. Raymond was a railroad man, and Florence worked for Bell Telephone. When Al was 4 1l2 he was joined by a younger brother, Logan.
At the age of 7 Al trusted the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior, and shortly after that became very interested in missionary work. Creative, articulate, adventurous, and hard-working, Al grew up being involved in his community and church, working at summer camps, saving for school by working at the local A&P grocery store, and participating in the usual brotherly and youth rivalries and mischief. Each experience broaden his skills and exposed him to things which would help him in the future.
After high school in Absecon he attended Wheaton College in Illinois, majoring in anthropology. Playing football, singing in quartets, speaking at youth outreaches, and keeping the school boilers going were regular parts of his college days along with (sometimes!) studying. During his Freshman year he met the love of his life, Gladys Ann Hage, or “Gladie” as she was known. She had also trusted Christ as Savior at the age of 7 and had become interested in missionary work. They dated all through college, and got married on June 17,1948, three days after graduation.
Dallas Theological Seminary was the next step of study and preparation for anticipated service as missionaries somewhere. Al continued to work with youth, preach, and teach. He was introduced to radio work, as well. The couple was thinking that their future work would be in Europe. During the last year of seminary, however, they were told about a radio ministry in Guatemala and began to pray for that outreach. Their interest grew and they sensed that God was directing them to the Central American Mission and the work in Guatemala. After Al graduated with a Masters degree in Theology, he, Gladie, and their 9 month old daughter, Beth, set off for Central America. It was August,1951. Al drove with a friend. It took them 10 days! Gladie and Beth flew.
Language school was in San Jose, Costa Rica. Right away Al’s verbal skills and adventurous spirit helped him excel in learning Spanish. He thrived in the setting. Things were not so easy for Gladie who, in addition to all the cultural and language adjustments, was unexpectedly pregnant with their second daughter, Bobbie, who was born during their time there.
After completing language school the family of 4 settled in Guatemala City in December, 1952. Al began preaching and producing radio programs for Radio Station TGNA (“Telling Good News Abroad”) and Gladie, a very accomplished musician, provided extensive musical programing. [Side note: some of the preaching and music they recorded during those years is STILL being broadcast!]. During this time Al also began teaching some courses at the Central American Bible Institute.
In June, 1956, the couple’s 3rd daughter, Brendy, was born. Complications at birth due to the Rh factor resulted in a damaged motor center. Brendy lived her life in a body limited by cerebral palsy. Trusting that the Lord would care for these special needs that were now part of their family, the Platt’s continued living and serving in Guatemala. Al’s creativity produced all sorts of helpful “equipment” for making Brendy’s life interesting and productive. He also enjoyed challenging himself and giving Brendy opportunities, like waterskiing with him on his skis and climbing volcanoes with her on his back.
Al worked at TGNA for 9 years, becoming its director along the way. His love for teaching and his administrative skills, however, began to be needed more at the Bible Institute. During this time he began working on his doctoral degree from Dallas Seminary, spending some time in Dallas as a family for that. In May, 1962, he received his Doctor of Theology degree. Back in Guatemala, he became Director of the Bible Institute in 1965, and the following year helped to co-found the Central American Theological Seminary. He and Gladie served there until 1974, teaching and doing extensive public relations traveling in both the United States and Central America.
In 1974 he was asked to take the presidency of the mission and move to the headquarters in Dallas, Texas. After much prayer and deliberation the decision was made to leave their beloved Guatemala and move to Dallas. Al served as leader of the mission, (then called ‘CAM International’, now ‘Camino Global,’ a part of Avant Ministries), and did prolific speaking in churches and at conferences and wide-spread traveling. He retired from his role as president in 1992 but continued the speaking and traveling.
In 2005 Al, Gladie and Brendy moved to Newton, KS, to be close to their daughter and son-in-law, Bobbie and Steve Friesen. Daughter, Beth, and husband Chalo Sandoval, were missionaries in Mexico. Al had many opportunities to speak and do interim pulpit supply for churches in the area, which he thoroughly enjoyed. In December, 2009, his beloved Gladie went to be with the Lord after battling lung cancer. In June, 2011, his dear Brendy joined her mother after a battle with bladder cancer. Al continued to live on his own and minister in area churches, although he became less and less mobile. During this time he wrote and recorded 75 Bible teaching videos in Spanish. These are being used in Mexico, Cuba, Ecuador and the US. In October, 2018, his oldest daughter, Beth, in Mexico, joined her mom and sister in heaven after a tough battle with leukemia.
October 19, 2019 was an infamous day for Al. The dreaded “fall” which resulted in a broken hip happened that evening in his home. The road to recovery was rocky. Surgeries and rehab helped, but Al couldn’t regain ability to stand or walk. He moved to Newton’s Presbyterian Manor on November 13. He was wonderfully cared for and loved and often reflected on God’s goodness in directing him there. He appreciated the staff so very much. Their warmth and efficiency was a huge blessing to him and the family, as COVID-19 limited family interaction so drastically. He was also very attached to and appreciative of the staff of Newton Medical Center’s Wound Care. They were so attentive and helpful to him through years of treating his ongoing foot wounds.
Wednesday June 24 was when hospice needed to be added to Al’s group of care givers. A week and half later, on “Freedom Day,” July 4th at 3:40 AM, with Steve and Bobbie at his side, he slipped into freedom from pain and restriction and into the presence of Jesus whom he loved and served his whole life.
He is survived by his brother, Logan Platt, of Plano, TX; his son-in-law, Chalo Sandoval, of Puebla, Mexico; his son-in-law and daughter, Steve and Bobbie Friesen, of Newton, KS; grandchildren: Aaron and Natalie Sandoval of Madrid, Spain; Arturo and Meya Martinez of Allen, TX; Nathan and Amy Threadgill of Lavon, TX; Andy and Julie Friesen of Newton, KS; Luke and Chelsea Friesen of Richardson, TX; and Toby and Summer Friesen of Thompson’s Station, TN; 15 great grandchildren, and many nieces and nephews.
He will be greatly missed! The family is planning private memorial times. Two memorials have been designated: Avant Ministries – (Project: Light Madrid)10000 N. Oak Traffic way Kansas City, MO 64155 (for the missionary work of grandson Aaron & Natalie Sandoval)And: Dallas Theological Seminary 3909 Swiss Avenue, Dallas, TX 75204