In memoriam: Missionary emeritus Grady Nowell, 89

Charles Grady Nowell, 1930-2020

Charles Grady Nowell, an International Mission Board missionary emeritus who shared the gospel among the American Affinity Peoples in Honduras, died April 5, 2020. He was 89.

Nowell was born Oct. 21, 1930, in Wake County, N.C., to the late Benjamin Franklin and Hattie Edna Mitchell Nowell. After his family moved to Wendell, N.C., they became members of Wendell Baptist Church. There, he wrote in his application for missionary service, “I began to accept positions of leadership that helped prepare me for God’s call to the ministry, which was made clear to me in early January 1952.”

He received the Bachelor of Arts from Wake Forest University, now in Winston-Salem, N.C., and the Bachelor of Divinity from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Wake Forest.

But he was focused on becoming a pastor and had little interest in missionary service, he wrote, until seminary, when he felt God’s call through missionary day addresses and “I surrendered my life to God to serve him wherever he should lead, feeling that he was calling me to foreign missionary service.”

While at seminary, he also began dating Barbara Short and they were married in the summer of 1957. During and after seminary, he was a pastor of churches in Washington, N.C., Chantilly, Va., and Reidsville, N.C.

The Foreign Mission Board (now International Mission Board) in 1966 named Grady and Barbara missionaries to Honduras, where they served for 23 years, doing evangelism in Tegucigalpa, San Pedro Sula, Siguatepeque and La Ceiba.

Nowell is survived by his wife, Barbara Short Nowell; children, Kenneth Grady Nowell (Julie), Carolyn Nowell Elliott (David), Brenda Nowell Maxwell (Danny), Sandra Nowell Phillips (David); sisters, Betty Nowell Gay Boyle (Preston), Rebecca Nowell Bridgers (Shelton), Linda Nowell Driver; nine grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

A graveside service was held April 10 at Mitchell Family Cemetery with a celebration of life to be held later.

Memorial gifts may be designated “Grady Nowell/Lottie Moon” and sent to Wakefield Central Baptist Church, 308 Proctor Street, Zebulon, NC 27597, or given at

Read an obituary here.