In memoriam: Missionary emeritus Frances Lawrence Skinner, 96

Frances Lawrence Skinner, 1924-2021

Frances Lawrence Skinner, an International Mission Board missionary emeritus who shared the gospel among American Affinity Peoples in Paraguay, died May 28, 2021. She was 96. 

Skinner was born May 31, 1924, in Florence County, South Carolina, to the late Rufus Earl and Clyda Wiggins Lawrence. She received the Bachelor of Arts from Coker College (now University), Hartsville, South Carolina, and then moved to Augusta, Georgia, where she worked for the FBI. Later she moved to Charleston, South Carolina, where she worked as secretary, eventually for Citadel Square Baptist Church, where she met William Skinner, then a medical student at the University of South Carolina. They were married in 1947.  

The Skinners surrendered their lives to fulfilling the gospel of Jesus Christ. The International Mission Board appointed them missionaries to Paraguay, where they served more than 35 years.  

According to her family, Frances organized the nutritional services for Centro Medico Bautista in Asunción, Paraguay, in 1952 and worked with the Christian Radio Broadcast Outreach in Asunción. They said she was devoted to Bible teaching and led many classes, often under a mango tree.  

As she and her husband began churches and organized prayer meetings and mobile clinics in Paraguay, they said, she became the music director, playing the autoharp in various outdoor worship settings. She later became an accomplished harpist and developed skill on the Paraguayan harp.  

Her chronicles of their years on the mission field later became a book, Adventures in Paraguay. The family said she often took on the role of nurse and health educator alongside her physician husband, which led the people they served in the remotest places in Paraguay to call her “Doctora.”

Following their retirement from missionary service, the family said, Frances enjoyed traveling, teaching Sunday School, fishing and “catching the largest Walleye” on Eagle River, Ontario. They helped establish The Paraguay Baptist Medical Center Foundation with friends Neal and Gail Buchannan and others.

Frances was preceded in death by her husband, William, and her grandson William Lee Skinner. She is survived by two of her siblings, Dr. Charles Lawrence and Gene Morrison; four children, Dr. Janice Algea (William), Dr. William Lawrence Skinner (Laura), Dr. Glenn Skinner and Peggy Sims (Mark); 13 grandchildren; 19 great–grandchildren; and three great-great-grandchildren.  

A funeral service was held June 1, 2021, at the Woodlawn-Roesch-Patton Funeral Home in Nashville, Tennessee, with burial following at Woodlawn Memorial Park, Nashville.

Read an obituary here.