In memoriam: Missionary emeritus Elizabeth Pearl Pittman Kirkendall, 96

Elizabeth Pearl Pittman Kirkendall, 1925-2021
IMB Photo

Elizabeth Pearl Pittman Kirkendall, an International Mission Board missionary emeritus who shared the gospel in Northern African and the Middle East and in Europe, died Dec. 26, 2021. She was 96.

Kirkendall was born Aug. 31, 1925, in Idabel, Oklahoma, to the late Charles E. and Dora Bell Pitman.  She graduated from Idabel High School and received the Bachelor of Science from Oklahoma Baptist University, Shawnee.

On her first Friday as a student at OBU, Libby accepted a date with James Kirkendall. By the time he entered military service, the couple knew they were in love. After James was discharged from the military, the couple were married on Nov. 22, 1946.

While James was studying at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Kentucky, the couple felt led to talk with a representative of the Foreign Mission Board about becoming missionaries. Missions stayed on their hearts as James served as a pastor in Philadelphia and Lyon, Mississippi, and in St. Louis, Missouri. Libby wrote when seeking missionary appointment, that she accepted every opportunity for teaching mission studies in the Woman’s Missionary Union.

In 1962, the Foreign Mission Board (now International Mission Board) appointed the Kirkendalls to serve in Northern Africa and the Middle East. After serving 25 years there and in Europe, primarily ministering among expatriate communities, the couple retired and returned to Oklahoma.

Kirkendall was preceded in death by James, her husband of 68 years. She is survived by four children, Ann Stewart of Edmond, Oklahoma; James Kirkendall of Biloxi, Mississippi; Thomas Kirkendall of Macon, Georgia; and Jonathan Kirkendall of Hyattsville, Maryland.

A memorial service was held Dec. 29, 2021, at Spring Creek Baptist Church in Oklahoma City.