In memoriam: Emeritus missionary Joann Davis Ethredge, 76

Joann Davis Ethredge

Joann Davis Ethredge, an emeritus International Mission Board missionary who shared the gospel among Sub-Saharan African Affinity Peoples in Togo, died Jan. 17, 2020, in Donalsonville, Georgia. She was 76.

Mrs. Ethredge was born Sept. 13, 1943, in Macon to the late Wilson and Gladys Mitchell Davis and grew up near Roberta. She attended G.A.B. School of Commerce in Macon; Georgia Southwestern College (now Georgia Southwestern State University), Americus; and New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.

On Dec. 10, 1961, she married Jerome Ethredge of Baker County, Georgia.

She wrote, when seeking missionary appointment, about her Christian growth while she and Jerome were members of Plains (Ga.) Baptist Church after they moved there in 1966. The first time she spoke in church, during a missions focus, she wrote, “My voice quivered as I said my few lines. What a feeling of accomplishment, though!” Soon she found she loved to speak in front of groups.

When a missionary spoke at the church, Joann wrote, “I felt a strong desire to help the people of the world in a material and spiritual way.” Jerome felt the same way and they began looking into foreign mission service.

They were appointed missionaries to Togo on April 13, 1976, and served there for 25 years. In Togo, Jerome was an agricultural evangelist and Joann was a home and church worker. In the 1980s, working with missionaries Mike and Marsha Key, Southern Baptist volunteers and Togolese workers, they turned a 65-acre patch of bush near Moretan, Togo, into a Baptist agricultural-Bible school.

Volunteer teams helped dig wells, build a pond for watering animals and gardens, and build a bridge to allow people in the Upper Ogou region access to the rest of the country during rainy season. Joann traveled a circuit of 10 villages, teaching villagers nutrition and health lessons, such as how to avoid being infested with water-borne guinea worms. The Ethredges and Keys also evangelized and taught literacy and agriculture.

In recent years, Joann was a member of First Baptist Church Donalsonville where she taught Sunday School, led women’s ministry studies, and was a Vacation Bible School leader for many years.

Survivors include her husband of 58 years, Jerome; her children, Rome Ethredge (Suzanne) and Margie E. Harper (Chris); her sister, Virginia Bates, and her brother, Wayne Davis. She is also survived by four grandchildren.

Funeral services were held Jan. 20, 2020, at First Baptist Church Donalsonville.

Read an obituary here.