In memoriam: Missionary emeritus Bobby Murphey Couts, 75

Bobby Murphey Couts, 1945-2020

Bobby Murphey Couts, an International Mission Board missionary emeritus who shared the gospel among the Sub-Saharan African Affinity Peoples in Benin, died Sept. 17, 2020, at his home in Whites Creek, Tenn. He was 75.

He was born on March 30, 1945, in Springfield, Tennessee, to the late Julia Bell Murphey and Joe Clinton Couts Jr. He received the Bachelor of Science from Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, and the Master of Divinity from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Fort Worth, Texas.

Couts married Becky Haltom in 1968 and the Foreign Mission Board (now International Mission Board) appointed them in 1974 as missionaries to Benin, where Couts served as an evangelist and church planter.

After language study in France, the Coutses moved to Benin, where their first assignment was to start a church in Porto-Novo. They held their first church service on Sept. 19, 1976, and wrote to supporters at home: “It’s hard to describe the feelings of joy we experienced that Sunday morn to be worshipping the Lord Jesus, together for the first time with friends to whom we’ve been witnessing for 9 months.”

On Easter Sunday 1980, they baptized their first convert, and Porto Novo Baptist Church was officially constituted in 1981.

The Coutses continued evangelizing and starting churches in Benin for more than 30 years and returned to Tennessee after retiring. Couts was a member of Parkway Baptist Church, Goodlettsville, Tennessee, and Springfield Baptist Church was his home church.

Bobby is survived by his wife, Rebekah “Becky” Jan Haltom Couts of Whites Creek; sons, Joshua John Couts and Rocco Daniel Dominic Couts; brothers, Gary Edward Couts (Dottie) and William “Bill” Porter Couts (Sandra); sisters, Marilyn Lee (Ken), Carolyn Mitchell (Larry), and Joanne Eden (Terry).

A celebration of life was held at Sept. 20, 2020, at Springfield Baptist Church, with burial in the Elmwood Cemetery, Springfield.

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

Read an obituary here.