In memoriam: Missionary emeritus Dorothy Jean Smith Gilbert, 93

Dorothy Jean Smith Gilbert, 1928-2021
IMB Photo

Dorothy Jean Smith Gilbert, an International Mission Board missionary emeritus who shared the gospel in Ecuador and Panama, died Nov. 26, 2021. She was 93.

Gilbert, was born February 5, 1928, in Memphis, Tennessee, to the late Rev. And Mrs. Alvin R. Smith.  Her family moved to Mississippi a few years later. Dottie received the Associate of Arts from Clark College, Newton, Mississippi, and the Bachelor of Arts from Mississippi College, Clinton. While at Clarke, she met James Pascal Gilbert, whom she married on May 10, 1947. At that time, Dottie wrote when seeking missionary appointment, she had become convinced that her life’s work was to be a pastor’s wife.

While at Mississippi College, the couple began to consider international mission work. While James completed seminary and served as pastor of churches in Mississippi and Alabama, the couple kept missionary service in the back of their minds but felt God wasn’t yet ready to use them that way. By the end of 1956, that feeling had changed.

In 1957, the Foreign Mission Board (now International Mission Board) appointed them missionaries to Ecuador, where they spent 25 years. During the 17 years they lived in Quito, two congregations grew into an association of 24 churches and missions. They then spent seven years in the Amazon jungle, where their work yielded an association of 17 churches and missions. The Gilberts then transferred to Panama, where they spent 10 years working with the Panama Metro Association and ministering on weekends in rural areas outside the city.

After retiring the Gilberts returned to Mississippi, where James was pastor of a church in Bay Saint Louis, and the Gilberts worked with ethnic missions on the Gulf Coast.

Dottie and James were married 51 years before his death in 1998. Dottie then moved to Montgomery, Alabama, near her oldest daughter, where she taught Spanish and Sunday School. In January 2021, Dottie moved with her daughter to Gulf Breeze, Florida.

Dottie was also preceded in death by her great-granddaughter Caroline Cobb. Survivors include her sister, Judy Smith; two daughters, Jean Gilbert Hicks (Tom) and Patricia Gilbert Schryer (Tim); a son, James Pascal Gilbert Jr.; 10 grandchildren; and 20 great-grandchildren.

A funeral was held Nov. 30, 2021, at Rose Lawn Funeral Home, Gulf Breeze, Florida, with burial at Biloxi (Mississippi) National Cemetery.

Read an obituary here.