In memoriam: Missionary emeritus Lucy Elizabeth Wagner, 93

Lucy Elizabeth Wagner, 1928-2021

Lucy Elizabeth Wagner, an International Mission Board missionary emeritus who shared the gospel among East Asian Affinity Peoples in South Korea, died June 21, 2021, at the Baptist Home in Chillicothe, Missouri. She was 93. 

She was born February 21, 1928, near Garden City, Missouri, to the late Alma Chandler Wagner and Ross Wagner. She attended a rural grade school and graduated from Garden City High School. After receiving the Bachelor of Science from Central Missouri State College (now University of Central Missouri), Warrensburg, she taught in Adrian (Missouri) High School for one year and then entered the Woman’s Missionary Union Training School, Louisville, Kentucky, where she received the Master of Religious Education.  

After she had worked at the Missouri Baptist Children’s Home in Pattonville (now Bridgeton), Missouri, as a caseworker for two years, the Foreign Mission Board (now International Mission Board) appointed her in 1955 as an evangelistic missionary to South Korea.  

Wagner wrote when seeking missionary appointment, that many experiences nurtured her call to missions. But one pivotal experience came in college when she became acquainted with a Korean student here to learn English. Wagner invited the young woman home with her for the Thanksgiving holiday. When the young woman asked about her plans after college, Wagner told her she felt God was leading her into a special field of Christian work. 

“She looked at me,” Wagner wrote, “and with tears in her eyes, she said, ’Maybe you come to my country!’ I could only answer, ’Maybe so,’ for the experience had deeply touched my heart, and I could not ever close my mind to the call from a friend in Christ, to ’come over and help us.’” 

After two years of language study in Korea, Wagner began work in local churches and with the newly organized Korea Woman’s Missionary Union. She continued to serve with the Korea WMU and to work with mission churches. She lived in Seoul but travelled throughout the country to meet with women’s groups and to train WMU leaders.  

Wagner served as a missionary until 1993, when she returned to the United States and retired in 1994 after 39 years as a missionary. She became a member of Immanuel Baptist Church (now Abundant Life), Independence, Missouri, and served in church leadership as a Bible teacher, WMU leader and mission leader. She also served on the Missouri Woman’s Missionary Union Executive Board as prayer advocate. Wagner also participated in the Kansas City Korean Baptist Church encouraging members and leading in worship when needed. 

Her survivors include nieces Jo Ann Ruckel and Nancy Jane Fontaine, nephew George Ruckel and cousins Nancy White, Jan Gray, Olivia Wakefield and Emily Wagner. 

A graveside service was held June 28 at Dayton (Missouri) Cemetery and a memorial service was held July 13 at Abundant Life Church, Independence, Missouri.

Read an obituary here.