In memoriam: Missionary emeritus Lewis Ruil Smith, 1928-2023 

Lewis Ruil Smith, 1928-2023 
IMB Photo

Lewis Ruil Smith, an International Mission Board missionary emeritus who shared the gospel in China, died Oct. 15, in Charlotte, North Carolina. He was 94.

Lewis was born Dec. 15, 1928, to Ruil H. Smith and Ethel Lewis Smith, in Eatonton, Georgia. He graduated from Eatonton High School. He graduated from Mercer University in Macon, Georgia; studied at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, and Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina; and received the Doctor of Medicine from the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta, Georgia.

He married Shirley Ann Gibbs on July 1, 1954. After they married, the US Air Force sent Lewis to Tripoli, Libya, where he worked in the hospital at Wheelus US Air Force base. After his return to the U.S., he continued his seminary education. His obituary reported that he felt a call to missions and made a commitment to go at 12 years old.

In 1960, the Foreign Mission Board (now, International Mission Board) appointed Lewis and Shirley missionaries to Hong Kong. He served as a doctor in the Baptist Clinic, helped to administer the planning and building of a new hospital, and, at the invitation of the Chinese government, he traveled to several regions of mainland China to teach modern techniques in non-urban hospitals. In addition, Lewis co-founded the “Langford and Smith Medical Group.”

His obituary reported, “This practice became a model for SBC medical missionaries to serve all patients including those who could not afford the needed care.” In Asia, he also used his proficiency in piano on many occasions.
The couple served on the field for 33 years.

Lewis is preceded in death by his wife, Shirley, and his son, Dave.

He is survived by daughters Karen (Carlton) Moore, Charlotte, North Carolina; Cathy (David) Caviness, Clifton, Virginia; and Deborah Smith, Washington DC.; daughter-in-law, Marla Smith, Atlanta, Georgia; four grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

A small memorial service was Oct. 29, at Asbury Skilled Nursing in Charlotte, North Carolina. A funeral service and committal with military honors, was on Nov. 18, 2023, First Baptist Church, Eatonton, Georgia.

Read an obituary here.