In memoriam: Missionary emeritus Martha Haylock, 90

Martha Haylock, 1930-2021
IMB Photo

Martha Haylock, an International Mission Board missionary emeritus who shared the gospel in Honduras and Dominican Republic, died March 23, 2021. She was 90.

Haylock was born Dec. 16, 1930, in Decatur, Alabama, to the late Kate Frazier Higdon and Harry Haskins Higdon. She graduated from Decatur Senior High School and received the Bachelor of Science from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

Haylock wrote when seeking missionary appointment that her mother “influenced me as a small child and growing girl to have an interest in and a strong zeal for missions.” She credited her mother for influencing her missionary call and surrender to the mission field.

One day, when her mother took her to an African-American Sunday School in the suburbs of Decatur, Haylock knelt with other children and gave her heart to Jesus. After baptism at the Central Baptist Church of Decatur, Martha participated in Woman’s Missionary Union organizations, each of them influencing her toward missions.

After high school, Haylock attended Maryville (Tennessee) College, where she met Arthur Haylock, who became her husband on Dec. 23, 1953. After their marriage, Martha taught elementary school in Carmen, Oklahoma, and Fort Worth, Texas, while Arthur attended Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and served as a pastor.

Later, as Arthur served as pastor of a mission that soon became First Baptist Church of Gulf Breeze, Florida, Martha said she found her richest experience there serving as WMU president. Both she and Arthur felt a definite call to missions during a revival at their church in 1958.

In 1960, the Foreign Mission Board (now International Mission Board) appointed the Haylocks as missionaries to Honduras. The couple served nine years there and another 23 in the Dominican Republic before retiring and returning to the United States.

In Honduras and the Dominican Republic, Martha was involved in a variety of church and community activities. In the Dominican Republic, for instance, Martha wrote in a newsletter that she mentioned during a church meeting that she wanted to teach a class for adults who wanted to learn to read. “Two middle-aged women, with tears in their eyes, said that for years they had prayed that the Lord would send someone who would teach them to read,” she wrote.

Her daughter, Janet Haylock Crawford, said that Martha served her neighbors, friends, colleagues and church members, even providing a home for someone who was homeless several times. She also gave a Christmas party for members of her church on the mission field every year.

Crawford said a special memory for her parents was Donã Tatica, a member of the last church they started in the Dominican Republic. Donã Tatica had been a prostitute, but after her parents won her to the Lord, she became one of their most faithful members, supporting herself by sewing mosquito netting and clothing for children.

Haylock was preceded in death by her husband of 63 years, Arthur, who died in 2017. She is survived by her children, Janet Haylock Crawford (Frank) of Ivor, Virginia; Susan Haylock Penton of Dothan, Alabama; Todd Haylock of Pensacola, Florida; and Art Haylock Jr. of San Diego, California; four grandchildren; and one great-grandchild.

Donations in her memory may be made to the Lottie Moon Offering, IMB, 3806 Monument Avenue, Richmond, VA 23230, or online at Generosity Resource Center – IMB Generosity.