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Cancer claims missionary women Brenda Norville, Wilma Rodgers

COOPER CITY, Fla. (BP)–Two Southern Baptist missionary women have died of cancer, Brenda Conwell Norville, 50, and Wilma Rodgers, 60.
Norville, an International Mission Board communications missionary for churches in the Caribbean, died Feb. l5 at her home in Cooper City, Fla., after a long battle with brain cancer.
Rodgers, an IMB missionary to Cote d’Ivoire, died Feb. 12 in Independence, Mo. She had returned to the United States on medical leave for cancer last year.
Norville, from Munday, Texas, edited Sunday school lessons for older children in the English-language churches of the Caribbean Basin. She and her husband, Buddy, had been assigned to the Caribbean Baptist Communications Centre in Hollywood, Fla., since l989. They worked in that facility’s Caribbean Christian Publications division, which produces Bible study, evangelism and discipleship materials used throughout the Caribbean.
“Brenda treated her demanding and often stressful task as a challenge and did it well,” said Arthur Edgar, Jamaican-born director of the center. “However, she was happiest when engaged in the attendant responsibilities of training lesson writers and conducting teacher-training seminars for Sunday school workers in various parts of the Caribbean,” he said.
The Norvilles first were appointed as missionaries to the Ivory Coast in l974. They resigned in l978 and were reappointed to Liberia in l979. They transferred to El Paso (Texas) Baptist Publications in l988 and moved to the Hollywood area in l989 when the Caribbean publication division shifted from Texas to Florida.
“With a full-time job as an editor and her role as wife and mother, Brenda still found time to be involved in outreach ministries such as literacy missions and the distribution of Bibles and Scripture portions,” Edgar said.
Norville had been teaching English for speakers of other languages for about 10 years, said Kathy Wade, International Mission Board missionary friend and co-worker. “I can’t emphasize enough her love for literacy,” Wade said. Even while Norville was sick, she continued to teach English to her next-door neighbor, who is Chinese, Wade said.
Norville also showed her missionary spirit when Hurricane Andrew devastated south Florida.
“Brenda was very much a part of the relief effort for about the first week” following the storm, Wade said. She and her husband helped to set up a mobile kitchen, distribute donations and provide a neighborhood grocery store for hurricane victims.
Born in Knox City, Texas, Norville attended several universities in Texas and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. While ill with cancer, she earned in 1996 a bachelor’s degree from Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton.
Norville is survived by her husband and two sons, Scott of Fort Worth and Todd of New York City.
Rodgers, a native of Independence, Mo., was appointed as a missionary by the IMB in 1968 and served her entire career in Cote d’Ivoire.
She worked with weekday religious education, with evangelism in a government hospital, as director of a Bible correspondence school, as advisor for two local churches and as hostess for the Ivory Coast Mission.
Rodgers was a graduate of Southwest Baptist University, Bolivar, Mo., Union University, Jackson, Tenn., and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Fort Worth, Texas. Prior to missionary appointment, she worked as a social worker and taught one summer with Project Head Start.
She is survived by two sisters and a brother.

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