IMB missionary Carol Spann dies after brief illness7/28/1998DALLAS (BP)--Carol Spann, one of Southern Baptists' first missionaries appointed to Russia after it opened to the West in 1990, died after a brief illness July 22. She was 34. Spann, who grew up in Ames, Iowa, was diagnosed in Russia with liver cancer in early July. She and her husband, Matt, returned to the United States only a week before she died. Matt Spann conducts church planting and pastoral training seminars throughout Russia. His wife worked alongside him and led women's Bible-study groups. "Carol was always vibrant, always had a smile on her face and was someone people could talk to," said Roger Briggs, the International Mission Board's associate regional leader for Central and Eastern Europe. "She also was a strong helpmate to Matt. They were a great couple together as they ministered." The Spanns have offered stability for the IMB's growing missionary organization in Russia. Many newer missionaries talk about Carol as being one of the people who helped them the most as they established themselves on the field. "They had a lot of confidence in her," Briggs said. The Spanns came to Moscow in 1993 in the first wave of career missionaries appointed to Russia after the Soviet Union fell and religious freedom swept throughout Eastern Europe. Most IMB missionaries in Russia are still in their first four-year term of service. Spann received the bachelor of science degree from Iowa State University in Ames. She attended Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. She completed an internship in dietetics at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas, Texas, and achieved registered dietitian standing by examination in Texas. Before her appointment, she was a dietitian at the Diabetes Treatment Center and Florida Hospital, both in Orlando and at John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth. The Spanns were married in 1989. They had two children, Paul, 5, and Lydia, 3, who survive her.