In memoriam: Emeritus missionary Frances Evelyn Hennessee Smyth, 95

Frances Smyth

Frances Evelyn Hennessee Smyth, an emeritus International Mission Board missionary who shared the gospel among American Affinity Peoples in Brazil, died Jan. 31, 2020. She was 95.

Born Dec. 11, 1924, in Florence, Alabama, Smyth moved at age 5 to La Feria, Texas, where she graduated from La Feria High School. She received the Associate of Arts from East Texas Baptist College (now University), Marshall, and the Bachelor of Arts from Mary Hardin-Baylor College (now University of Mary Hardin-Baylor), Belton, Texas.

Smyth became involved in Woman’s Missionary Union organizations as a child. When seeking missionary appointment, she wrote that she saw her first “real live missionary” at the associational Girls’ Auxiliary (now Girls in Action) camp when she was 11. When she returned to camp at age 14, she said she began to ponder God’s call and sincerely responded, “If God calls me to be a missionary, I’ll go.”

Through high school and college, she studied piano and began accompanying various music groups. After college she worked as youth director and secretary to the pastor at churches in Beaumont and Lubbock, Texas. In Lubbock, she also worked with the Baptist Student Union at Texas Tech, where she met Jerry Paul Smyth, a Tech student.

They married on Dec. 25, 1947. She served alongside her husband as he was pastor of churches in Louisiana and Mississippi. Both had begun to consider a call to international missions while he was a student at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. In late 1952, they committed themselves to missionary service and were appointed the next year to Brazil.

They served there for 38 years. Besides helping raise four sons, Paul, Jot, Mark and Philip, Smyth was involved in music ministries and other ministries with her husband.

After retirement, the Smyths moved to Texas and then North Carolina, where Jerry, her husband of 62 years, died in 2012.

A private memorial will be held by the family.