Dale Love, a lay pastor who shared his faith and generosity with Mien refugees, died Aug. 18 from a stroke, his family said. He was 80.
Mr. Love reached out to meet spiritual and temporal needs of new settlers in America. He was a longtime member of Central International Fellowship, a Sacramento church that draws a diverse congregation to worship services offered in English, Mien and Spanish.
With his first wife, Barbara, he oversaw a church ministry for Mien refugees from Laos who assisted the United States in the Vietnam War and fled to camps in Thailand.
The couple collected donated clothing and furniture for immigrants who arrived in Sacramento in the late 1970s with few possessions. They taught English classes, tutored schoolchildren and helped families find housing and jobs.
"There are probably hundreds of families who can tell stories of how he helped them," said the Rev. Don Patterson, senior pastor of Central International Fellowship. "He didn't live in a world with a lot of possessions. He gave possessions away."
A construction worker by trade, Mr. Love repaired and built homes for refugee families. He learned to read the New Testament in Mien and prayed with refugees, who called him "Jien Ong."
"It means 'American grandfather,' " the Rev. Yauz En Lee said. "Mien people loved and appreciated him for doing so much for the community."
Born July 16, 1933, Aubrey Dale Love was the eldest of nine children raised on a ranch in Douglas, Ariz.
He met his wife, Barbara, and earned a theology degree at Biola University, an evangelical Christian university in La Mirada.
He built homes in Southern California and Sacramento, where he moved with his wife, a teacher, and their two children in 1967.
They lived from 1970 to 1972 as missionaries in Ivory Coast, where he built homes, schools and churches while his wife taught school.
Mr. Love also helped Lao, Hmong and Vietnamese immigrants and refugees from the former Soviet Union in Sacramento.
He was a gentle man and a good listener who loved puns and working crossword puzzles, his family said.
His first wife died in 1993 after 38 years of marriage. He was married since 1994 to his second wife, Muong.
"One of the most important things about my dad is that he always made a point at the end of every conversation to say, 'I love you,' " said his daughter, Linda Lee Love-Ghione. "He was very consistent and careful about saying it. He was always very encouraging and supportive."
Besides his wife and daughter, Mr. Love is survived by a son from his first marriage, Lawrence; three stepchildren, Stefanee Saephan, Rick Saephan and Danly Saephan; five siblings, Bertha Allen, Ruth Bell, Vickie Brokaw, Allen Love and Ruby Plumb; and five grandchildren.
A celebration of life is set for 10 a.m. Saturday at Central International Fellowship, 4760 16th Ave., Sacramento.
Call The Bee's Robert D. Dávila, (916) 321-1077. Follow him on Twitter @bob_davila.