In memoriam: Missionary emeritus Barbara Short Nowell, 1932-2024 

Portrait of Barbara Nowell. IMB Photo

Barbara Short Nowell, an International Mission Board missionary emeritus who shared the gospel in Honduras, died April 14, 2024. She was 91.  

Barbara was born July 8, 1932, in Catawba County, North Carolina, to the late Daniel Henson Short and Addie Sue Elizabeth Williams Short. She graduated from High Point High School and received the Associate of Arts degree from Mars Hill College (now University) in Mars Hill, North Carolina, and the Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the Medical College of Virginia (now Virginia Commonwealth University) School of Nursing in Richmond, Virginia. She also studied at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina.  

Her obituary reports:  

“Barbara became a Christian at the age of 8 while reading Psalm 139, realizing that there was nowhere she could go to get away from the love of God, and decided she did not want to be away from such a great love.” 

It also said that at age 13, Barbara felt called to missions through involvement in the Girls in Action mission program and the influence of her pastor. Her first opportunity for missionary service came when she spent a summer in Jamaica sharing Jesus with others. Because she knew she wanted to help people physically when she shared about Jesus, Barbara also became a nurse.  

“Barbara was so dedicated to becoming a missionary that she did not seriously date anyone who did not also feel called to be a missionary,” it added.  

In seminary, she met Charles Grady Nowell. They married in 1957. Less than 10 years later, the couple answered the call to full-time missionary service.  

In 1966, the Foreign Mission Board (now International Mission Board) appointed Barbara and Charles missionaries to Honduras. In addition to her medical skills, Barbara used her love of music in ministry. The couple retired from the IMB after 24 years of service.   

Barbara was preceded in death by her husband, Charles, who died in 2020.  

She is survived by her children, Carolyn Nowell Elliott (David) of Wendell, North Carolina; Kenneth Grady Nowell (Julie) of Apex, North Carolina; Sandra Nowell Phillips (David) of Lynchburg, Virginia; Brenda Nowell Maxwell (Danny) of Louisburg, North Carolina; nine grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren.  

A funeral service was held April 17 at Wakefield Central Baptist Church in Zebulon, North Carolina, with burial at Mitchell Cemetery. 

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.