In memoriam: Missionary emeritus Marcus Carthron Reed, 96

Marcus Carthron Reed, 1925-2021

Marcus Carthron Reed, an International Mission Board missionary emeritus who shared the gospel among the Northern African and Middle Eastern Affinity Peoples in the Middle East, died May 22, 2021. He was 96 and lived in Chapel Hill, Tennessee. 

Reed was born Feb. 13, 1925, in Etowah, Tennessee, to the late Horace Beecher Reed Sr. and Marcus Carthron Reed. He graduated from Rule High School, Knoxville, Tennessee. He received the Bachelor of Arts from Carson-Newman College (now University), Jefferson City, Tennessee, and the Bachelor of Divinity from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Fort Worth, Texas. 

Reed served with the U.S. infantry in Europe during World War II. He was wounded in the Battle of the Bulge and received the Purple Heart and two Bronze Service Stars. After returning home, he married Ruth Caldwell, whom he had begun dating while attending the same high school and church.

Reed served as pastor of Cedar Grove Baptist Church and Beech Grove Baptist Church in Blount County, Tennessee, as well as churches in Texas and Georgia. In 1960, the Foreign Mission Board (now International Mission Board) appointed Marcus and Ruth as representatives in the Middle East, where they served more than 25 years. The roles he held there included directing an orphanage and boarding school, managing a dormitory for missionary children, and pastoring a Baptist church.

Reed wrote when seeking missionary appointment of a life-changing event while stationed at Camp Gruber, Oklahoma, during his Army service. He played with a small orchestra on Sunday evenings at his church there. One Sunday during the invitation, another musician turned to him and said, “Marcus, you are going to be a preacher.” When Reed asked how he knew, the man replied, “God has laid it on my heart that He wants you to preach. I have not been able to sleep for a week. I have spent hours every nigh praying that you would hear his call.” Instantly, Reed knew God was confirming the call he had felt for years without telling anyone.   

According to his family, after retirement Reed taught Bible classes and played in the church orchestra at Beech Grove Baptist Church in Blount County. Most recently he taught Bible classes and played in the orchestra at Chapel Hill Community Baptist Church in Marshall County, Tennessee.

Reed is survived by three children, Carolyn Ruth Reed Seely, Charles Edwin Reed and Joyce Ann Reed; six grandchildren; 13 great-grandchildren; and seven great-great grandchildren.

He was preceded in death by his wife of 66 years, Margaret Ruth Caldwell Reed, and by great-grandson Bryce Michael Spencer.

A funeral service was held June 1, 2021, at Highland Memorial Cemetery, Knoxville.

Read an obituary here.