In memoriam: Missionary emeritus Robert E. Williamson, 75

Robert E. Williamson, 1946-2021

Robert E. Williamson of Wetumpka, Alabama, an International Mission Board missionary emeritus who shared the gospel among the Sub-Saharan African Affinity Peoples in Zimbabwe and South Africa, died July 25, 2021, at UAB Hospital in Birmingham, Alabama. He was 75. 

Williamson was born Feb. 3, 1946, in Mobile, Alabama, to the late Homer Elnathan Williamson and Ruth Mozela Rayburn Williamson. Following graduation from Vigor High School, Mobile, Williamson was drafted into the United States Army his first year of college and served as a drill sergeant at Fort Benning, Georgia, during the Vietnam War. Returning to school in 1969, he earned the Bachelor of Arts from Mobile College (now University of Mobile) in 1971, and the Master of Divinity from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Fort Worth, Texas, in 1973.  

While at Mobile College, he began dating Vicki Darlene Davis, and they were married in 1968. During seminary, he was ordained as a minister in 1972. He served as a pastor in Alvord, Texas, and at Pinedale Baptist Church, Montgomery, Alabama. 

Williamson wrote when seeking missionary appointment that he was searching for the Lord’s will when God burdened him about foreign missions through exposure to the Foreign Mission Board’s The Commission magazine. He said that he surrendered to be a missionary and asked God to call Vicki without his intervention. Weeks later, Vicki told him God was dealing with her about foreign missions.  

The Foreign Mission Board (now International Mission Board) appointed them missionaries to Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) in 1975. They served one term there and one in Bophuthatswana (now part of South Africa). In 1982, the family returned to the states for 15 years of pastoral ministry, first serving at First Baptist Church, Eclectic, Alabama, and then at Moffett Road Baptist Church, Mobile.  

During his years in the pastorate, Bob completed the Doctor of Ministry in 1990, also at Southwestern seminary.  

In 1996, he and Vicki sensed a call to return to the mission field and were reappointed as career missionaries to Cape Town, South Africa, serving alongside Westridge Baptist Church. They retired from the International Mission Board in 2011, having served more than 20 years in southern Africa. 

Bob then served as pastor of Mount Hebron East Baptist Church, Eclectic, where he and Vicki helped the church rebuild after a tornado destroyed the church’s facilities. In total, Bob and Vicki served 50 years together in ministry. In subsequent years, said his family, Bob enjoyed his men’s Sunday School class, visiting with family and friends, walking his dog, Toby, and planning trips.  

He is survived by his wife of 53 years, Vicki Darlene Davis Williamson; two children, Melissa Ann Williamson Hawkins (Craig) and Robert Nathan Williamson (Kimberly); five grandchildren; a brother, William Randolph Williamson; and a sister, Anna Jean Fail. 

A service was held July 29, 2021, at Good Hope Baptist Church, Eclectic, with burial at Good Hope Cemetery.  

Donations in his memory may be made to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions through Good Hope Baptist Church, 1776 South Fleahop Road, Eclectic, AL 36024. 

Read an obituary here.