In memoriam: Missionary emeritus Ruth Ann Smith, 84

Ruth Ann Smith, 1938-2022
IMB Photo

Ruth Ann Smith, an International Mission Board missionary emeritus who shared the gospel in Tanzania, the Middle East and Guyana, died Feb. 3, 2022, at her residence in Ellisville, Mississippi. She was 84.

Smith was born Jan. 16, 1938, in Enid, Oklahoma, to the late Harold Roberts and Irene Price Posey. She grew up in Pond Creek, Oklahoma, and graduated from Pond Creek High School. She received the Bachelor of Arts from Oklahoma Baptist University, Shawnee.

While in college, Smith served two summers in California with the Home Mission Board (now North American Mission Board). She wrote when seeking missionary appointment that she began feeling the call to missions in high school and decided during her first year in college that God must be calling her to foreign missions. “The numbers just weren’t balanced right; there were (and are) too many Christians in the United States compared to other countries …,” she wrote. “But though others could see the imbalance … , not everyone felt the compulsion to change the ratio as I did. So I decided that God must be using experiences such as this to call me.”

On her first date with Don Smith at OBU, she wasn’t wowed but knew God wanted her to marry him “because he is going the same direction I am,” she wrote. After graduating she moved to Los Angeles to work as office manager of the Los Angeles Southern Baptist City Missions Office, where she had worked the previous summer. By the time she left Los Angeles, her feelings for Don Smith had grown and they were married on May 6, 1960.

While Don worked on a degree at Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary in Mill Valley, Calif., and later as Don served as pastor of churches in Biola, Jackson and Sun Valley, California; Palmer, Alaska; and Braymer, Missouri, Ruth taught piano, worked as a substitute teacher and cared for their three girls. Wherever they lived, Ruth Ann wrote, they wouldn’t escape the feeling that God wanted them to serve in another country.

In 1969, the Foreign Mission Board (now International Mission Board) appointed the Smiths missionaries to East Africa. In several cities of Tanzania, Ruth Ann served in church and home evangelism. They later served also in the Middle East and Guyana before retiring after serving 28 years.

Survivors include her husband of 61 years, Don Smith of Ellisville; daughters Rilda Smith of Shawnee; Robin Jordan (Kelly) of Newton, Mississippi, and Roxie Porter (Frank) of Ellisville; three grandchildren; and one sister, Joyce Booze of Westminster, Colorado.

A funeral service was held Feb. 8, 2022, at Ellisville Funeral Home, and a second service Feb. 11, 2022, at Walker Funeral Chapel, Shawnee, with burial later in Fairview Cemetery, Shawnee.

Donations in her memory may be made to the Lottie Moon Offering, IMB, 3806 Monument Avenue, Richmond, VA 23230, or online at Generosity Resource Center – IMB Generosity.

Read an obituary here.