In memoriam: Missionary emeritus Geneva Willis Faw, 86

Geneva Faw, 1934-2020

Geneva Willis Faw, an International Mission Board missionary emeritus who shared the gospel among Sub-Saharan African Affinity Peoples in Nigeria, died June 27, 2020, at Ephraim McDowell Hospital in Danville, Kentucky. She was 86.

Faw was born on Feb. 21, 1934, in Mars Hill, Noth Carolina, to the late Claude Willis and Cordia Davis Willis. Her family moved to Waynesburg, Kentucky, when she was in her early teens. She graduated from Waynesburg High School and received the Bachelor of Arts from the University of Kentucky, Lexington.

“I cannot remember when I started going to church because I started as a small baby,” she wrote when seeking missionary appointment. “I started my road to missionary service as a Sunbeam, then as a G.A.,” she said, referring to Girls in Action, a missions programs for children sponsored by Woman’s Missionary Union.

“I first became interested in missions and God’s Great Commission when I was a Junior G.A., learning scriptures for my Forward Steps and studying about the needs of people the world over.”

She married Wiley Faw, a student at the University of Kentucky, shortly after she finished high school.   When he responded to God’s call to the ministry, Geneva said, she saw for the first time what her call to Christian service meant. While Faw was at the Southern Baptist Seminary, Louisville, both felt God’s call to missions. Geneva taught in Kentucky while Wiley served as a pastor there.

In 1962, the Foreign Mission Board (now International Mission Board) appointed the Faws missionaries to Nigeria, where they served 32 years in Jos and Gombe.

In recent years, Faw lived in Waynesburg, Kentucky, where she was a member of Pleasant View Baptist Church, served in leadership positions with Woman’s Missionary Union and continued to minister to those around her.

Faw was preceded in death by her husband of 66 years, Wiley B. Faw Sr., and two sons, Wiley B. “Buddy” Faw Jr. and Jacob C. Faw. She is survived by two daughters, Rhonda Faw Cassel (Steve) and Mira Faw Reeves (Tim); daughter-in-law, Vicki Faw Harding (RJ); seven grandchildren; and 11 great-grandchildren.

A graveside service for the family took place July 1 at Olive Cemetery in Waynesburg, and a public memorial service was to be held later.

Memorial donations may be made to International Mission Board, 3806 Monument Avenue, Richmond, VA 23230, or online at

Read an obituary here.