In memoriam: Missionary emeritus Mary Alice Ditsworth, 90

Mary Alice Ditsworth, 1930-2020

Mary Alice Ditsworth, an International Mission Board missionary emeritus who shared the gospel among Southeast Asian Affinity Peoples in Indonesia and Singapore, died Sept. 17, 2020, at Singing River Hospital in Pascagoula, Mississippi. She was 90.

Ditsworth was born in 1930 in Lucedale, Mississippi, to the late Mr. and Mrs. Wayne J. Ditsworth. She graduated from Pascagoula High School in 1948. She received the Bachelor of Music from East Texas Baptist University, Marshall, and the Master of Religious Education from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Fort Worth.

After she served as educational and youth director for First Baptist Church, Pascagoula, the International Mission Board appointed her as a missionary in 1956. She served more than 40 years in Indonesia and Singapore. Upon retirement in 1997, she returned home to Pascagoula and continued her life of service as a volunteer at Arlington Baptist Church.

Ditsworth wrote when seeking missionary appointment that she dedicated her life to God for full-time service at age 16 but resisted his call to foreign missions. “I had always had a keen interest in missions, always made as generous offering as I could, and was always moved by the needs of people around the world,” she wrote. “I felt that every missionary appeal tugged at my own heart and that every invitation was directed to me.”

After seminary, working at her home she realized God was calling her as well.

According to her family, as a missionary Ditsworth made 13 trips around the world and visited 28 countries. She was involved in establishing five new churches in Indonesia, she led the language study program for new missionaries in Indonesia for 23 years, played the piano and angklung (an Indonesian musical instrument), led children’s choir, taught Sunday School and worked as a director and editor at the Baptist Publishing House in Indonesia.

She is survived by Grady Ditsworth (Nancy) of Ocala, Florida; David Ditsworth (Annie) of Pascagoula; Eddie Gilstrap of Cleburne, Texas; Dorothy Ditsworth of Mobile, Alabama; Annette Hudson of Pascagoula; Richard Maxwell (Guy) of Daphne, Alabama; Sherry Maxwell McVey (Ollie) of Pascagoula; and numerous nieces and nephews.

Services for Ditsworth were held on Sept. 21, 2020, at O’Bryant O’Keefe funeral home in Pascagoula, with burial following at Machpelah Cemetery.

Donations in memory of Ditsworth may be made to Arlington Baptist Church, 2101 Market Street, Pascagoula, MS 39567 or to the Lottie Moon Offering, IMB, 3806 Monument Avenue, Richmond, VA 23230, or online at

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