In memoriam: Missionary emeritus Susie Savannah Hartfield, 94

Susie Hartfield, 1924-2019

Susie Savannah Hartfield, an International Mission Board missionary emeritus who shared the gospel among American Affinity Peoples in Mexico, died Sept. 14, 2019, in Raymond, Miss. She was 94.

Hartfield was born Oct. 4, 1924, on a farm in Oak Grove, Lamar County, Miss., to the late Oliver and Ollie Armstrong. Hartfield’s mother died when she was a young teen and she ran the household and cared for two younger sisters until her father remarried. After graduating from high school Hartfield moved to Hattiesburg, Miss., where she worked alongside Jimmy Hartfield, son of the neighbor who taught her to cook after her mother died. After her brothers and Jimmy were pulled into the war, Susie continued working in Hattiesburg.

According to family lore, upon his return from the Pacific and discharge from the Navy in 1945, Jim immediately made his way to Hattiesburg at Christmastime and proposed to Susie. They went directly to the justice of the peace and were married.

Hartfield supported Jim in every endeavor, including in those early years when he was a carpenter, grocer, and dairy farmer. While Jim was dairy farming near Petal, Miss., and the couple were members of Macedonia Baptist Church, Jim felt the call to church ministry. He sold the farm, and Susie packed up their two boys and moved with him to Camp Garaywa, a Baptist camp outside of Clinton, Miss., where they served as camp custodians while they attended nearby Mississippi College. They then moved to New Orleans, where Jim attended New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. In 1955 they moved to Baltimore, Md., where Jimmy served with the Maryland Baptist Convention.

Following the loss of their elder son, Wayne, to leukemia in 1958, Susie and Jim felt called to foreign mission service. The Foreign (now International) Mission Board appointed them as missionaries to Mexico. After their first night in an old colonial hotel in Morelia, Michoacan, they awoke to the sounds of shouts and gunfire and found themselves at ground zero of a communist student revolt which was being suppressed by Mexican calvary. During 25 years as missionaries, they studied language in Costa Rica and served in Mexico City, Guadalajara and Queretaro, Mexico, and El Paso, Texas.

The Hartfields retired in 1986, returning to Macedonia where they raised cattle, bees and vegetables and were active members of Macedonia Baptist Church. Along with Susie’s sister Mildred, the Hartfields also cared for her sister Dottie until her death. Susie and Jim continued to travel, visiting more than two dozen countries, until Jimmy’s death in 2011. With the help of her friends, Susie remained active at Macedonia Baptist Church until she moved to assisted living in Raymond, Miss.

Susie is survived by son, Paul (Libby); one granddaughter; one great grandson; and her sister, Mildred.

Services were held Sept. 18, 2019, at Hulett-Winstead Funeral Home Hattiesburg Chapel and she was buried in Highland Cemetery, Hattiesburg.

Donations in her memory may be made to the IMB, 3806 Monument Avenue, Richmond, VA 23230, or online at

Read an obituary here.