When we look back to the beginnings of Grace Children’s Hospital, there are so many who helped make James and Virginia’s vision possible. Hilda and Napoleon Etienne were definitely two of them. Caring, loving, and devoted to their community, they played a significant role in the beginnings of the hospital in the 1960s.
“Pastor Napo” (Napoelon) came on staff and served in many roles, including helping the Snavleys (who were American) to communicate with the Haitian people. His assistance allowed Grace to draw up contracts with government agencies allowing medicine and other supplies to clear customs when entering the country. Napo also traveled regularly to the United States to represent ICC and speak at fundraising events for the hospital.
“Napoleon Etienne was an articulate, charismatic speaker, fluent in English, who often translated for evangelists and dignitaries visiting Haiti,” writes John Snavley, James and Virginia’s youngest son. “I saw him translate for Billy Graham in the soccer stadium in Port-au-Prince in the early 1960s.”
When John was young, he remembers that in addition to the Etienne’s three children, there were always 15-20 people who lived at the household. “When we first arrived in Haiti,” he said, “the Snavley family of five were given a private bedroom in the Etienne house—which was a luxury.”
Hilda, known as Man Napo, administrated the operation of the household, running it much like an orphanage or a mission and church headquarters.
“She was a beautiful, strong Bahamian woman who spoke softly and commanded great respect,” John remembers.
Following Pastor Napo's death, Hilda spent her final years in Miami, Florida among friends and family. She recently passed away in January, but the impression she and her husband left in Grace Children’s Hospital and in the community will continue to be felt.
John Snavley writes, “Hilda and her husband made a powerful impact for the Kingdom of God, and for ICC in Haiti.”
To make a gift in their memory, click here.