In 1952, R. G. LeTourneau sent a landing ship equipped with machinery and goods to the coast of Liberia, with the goals of land and agricultural development as well as colonization and evangelism. LeTourneau's son-in-law, Gus Dick, led the project, until a serious eye injury forced him to return home. This footage captures the early efforts of the endeavor, from the ship's dedication ceremony in Vicksburg, Mississippi to its arrival in Liberia's Baffu Bay to the construction of "Tournata," the village that developed as a result of the group's industrial and missionary work.
Robert Gilmore LeTourneau was born on November 30, 1888 in Richford, Vermont. An inventor and entrepreneur, he established R.G. LeTourneau, Inc., an earthmoving equipment manufacturing company, in California in 1929. The business expanded throughout the 1930s and 1940s, opening factories in locations including Longview, Texas. The Longview factory ultimately became the company's headquarters. Securing nearly 300 patents, LeTourneau was responsible for the invention and development of numerous earthmoving machines and manufacturing processes, from the industry's use of rubber tires to the electric wheel drive system. In 1966, LeTourneau's son Richard took over the presidency of the company, now known as LeTourneau Technologies.
In addition to his work as an equipment engineer and manufacturer, LeTourneau was also a devout Christian and a philanthropist. In 1946, he and his wife Evelyn founded the LeTourneau Technical Institute in Longview to provide technical and mechanical training as well as classroom instruction. The institution became LeTourneau College in 1961 and LeTourneau University in 1989. The school now offers a variety of undergraduate and graduate programs, including engineering, aeronautics, business, education, and nursing.
R. G. LeTourneau passed away on June 1, 1969 after suffering a severe stroke. He was 80 years old.