In memoriam: Missionary emeritus Veda Locke, 1929-2024 

Portrait of Veda Locke. IMB Photo

Veda Levina Locke, an International Mission Board missionary emeritus who shared the gospel in Nigeria, died April 28, 2024, in Springfield, Missouri. She was 94.  

Veda was born Nov. 8, 1929, near Shirley, Arkansas, to the late William Anderson Williams and Beulah Patton Williams. She graduated from Alton High School in Alton, Missouri, and received the Bachelor of Arts from Southwest Baptist University, Bolivar, Missouri, and the Bachelor of Religious Education from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. 

Veda worked as a schoolteacher and first felt God’s call to missions during the school term of 1948-1949 while she was teaching the first four grades in a rural school near her hometown.  

“I felt God’s voice in private devotions and in the classroom when I was made aware that God had a more important truth for me to teach,” Veda wrote. She worked for the Home Mission Board (now North American Mission Board) during the summer of 1950 and got her “first taste of mission work. I worked in vacation Bible schools, took religious census, and played the piano for revivals.” 

Veda met Russell Locke, a fellow teacher and mission volunteer, while teaching in a school near Butler, Missouri. Veda and Russell married Jan. 13, 1951, and entered seminary together in May. Veda wrote that throughout their training in seminary, mission work was uppermost in their minds.  

“I had never been impressed with any one field of service, but I had thought of South America as a possibility. Soon, however, our thoughts began to turn to Africa as we began to hear more about new fields of work,” Veda wrote when they sought appointment with the Foreign Mission Board (now International Mission Board). 

In 1955, the International Mission Board appointed Veda and Russell missionaries to Nigeria. During their time on the field, Russell worked as the executive secretary of the Baptist Mission in Nigeria and then as director of the Evangelism and Stewardship Department of the Nigerian Baptist Convention. Veda was active in girl’s and women’s ministries, edited church literature, wrote several articles and books, and wrote over 100 devotionals based on her missionary experience. The Lockes retired in 1991 after 36 years of missionary service. 

Veda is preceded in death by Russell, her husband of 54 years, and grandson, Dustin Locke. 

She is survived by her children, Judith Miller (Larry), Martin (Pam), Stephen (Tonya), Charles (Donita), and Alan (Elsbeth); 12 grandchildren; 13 great-grandchildren; one great-great grandchild; siblings, Ena Oliver, Vera Williams, Roger Williams (Eleanor), and Wendell Williams (Rebecca). 

A funeral service was held May 3, 2024, at First Baptist Church, Springfield, Missouri, with burial in Mount Olive Cemetery, Polk County, Missouri. 

Donations in her memory may be made to the Lottie Moon Offering through First Baptist Church, 525 South Avenue, Springfield, MO 65806; to IMB, 3806 Monument Avenue, Richmond, VA 23230; or online at Generosity Resource Center – IMB Generosity. 

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