In memoriam: Missionary emeritus William Thomas Roberson, 96

William Thomas Roberson, 1924-2020

William Thomas Roberson, an International Mission Board missionary emeritus who shared the gospel among the Southeast Asian Affinity Peoples in the Philippines and Vietnam, died Nov. 24, 2020. He was 96.

Roberson was born July 6, 1924, in Candler, North Carolina, to the late Milton Wells Roberson and Mary Brewton Roberson. He attended Mars Hill (North Carolina) College and received the Bachelor of Science from Wake Forest (North Carolina) College (now University). He received the Bachelor of Divinity from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Kentucky.

He 1948, he married Audrey Mae Hanes of Charlotte, North Carolina, whom he met while both were on the staff of First Baptist Church, Salisbury, North Carolina. Roberson wrote when seeking missionary appointment, that both he and Audrey had dedicated themselves to Christian service before they met and that seminary experiences “helped lay a foundation in my heart for missionary zeal.”

Roberson later served as pastor of churches in Monterey, Kentucky, and in Patterson Springs, Beaufort and Shelby, North Carolina.

While he was pastor of First Baptist Church, Beaufort, Roberson wrote, “The missionary interest of the church made a tremendous impact upon my thinking and was a major factor in my decision for missionary service.”

During his next pastorate, while at a Foreign Missions conference in Ridgecrest, North Carolina, Roberson responded to the missions call after hearing speakers who “brought to a climax the conviction that had been smoldering in my heart that the world missions field is indeed ready for the harvest, but the laborers are few.”

The International Mission Board (formally the Foreign Mission Board) appointed the Robersons to Asia, where they served in Vietnam and the Philippines for 26 years and retired in 1989.

At the time of his death Roberson was a member of Westwood Baptist Church, Cary, North Carolina.

Roberson was preceded in death by his wife of 71 years, Audrey Hanes Roberson, a son, Hanes Roberson, and a grandson. Survivors include his daughters, Amelia Bennett (Steve) and Nancy Roberson; son, John Roberson (Amy); and three grandchildren.

A family memorial service was held for both Bill and Audrey, who died May 31, 2020, at Westwood Baptist Church on December 12, 2020.

Donations in Roberson’s memory may be made to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering®, IMB, 3806 Monument Avenue, Richmond, VA 23230, or online at

Read an obituary here.