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Goldia Naylor, 100, dies

FORT WORTH, Texas (BP)–Goldia Naylor, wife of former Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary President Robert E. Naylor, died Sunday, Jan. 31, in Fort Worth, Texas. She was 100.

Born Goldia Geneva Dalton on March 14, 1909, in Peck, Va., she came to Southwestern in 1928 as a student in the school of church music and eventually earned a diploma in religious education. She married Robert Naylor in 1930 and the two enjoyed 68 years of marriage.

Goldia Naylor served alongside her husband as a pastor’s wife for more than 30 years at churches in Arkansas, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Texas, including Travis Avenue Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Texas, from 1952-58. According to her family, she served as choir director, Sunday School superintendent, teacher and leader of the women’s mission organizations.

In 1958, Robert Naylor was elected the fifth president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, where he served for 20 years and after his retirement held the title of president emeritus until his death in February 1999. Throughout those years, Goldia ministered to both students and students’ wives. Drawing from her own experiences, she taught a class for seminary students’ wives to prepare them for a life of ministry alongside their husbands.

As important as ministry was to her, Goldia Naylor believed her primary calling was that of wife and mother. In a 2008 interview, her daughter, retired Southern Baptist missionary Rebekah Naylor, spoke about the profound influence her mother had on her life.

“Growing up in the Naylor household was a wonderful thing,” Rebekah Naylor said. “It was a home where we had daily family worship. It was a home of joy and happiness. I was always taught to love God first, and I think that, along with the disciplines I was taught, equipped me for what God wanted me to do in life.” Rebekah Naylor described her mother as “a very graceful, elegant lady. I learned much from her about social issues, behavior, attitudes; she modeled what it was to be a Christian woman and that was extremely important and has continued to be so.”

During the Naylors’ tenure at Southwestern, the seminary constructed four new buildings and renovated existing facilities as the student body and faculty increased. With a heart for hospitality, Goldia Naylor was intricately involved in the design and decoration of three of the buildings: the Naylor Student Center, the Goldia and Robert Naylor Children’s Center and the President’s Home on campus.

The Naylors stayed in Fort Worth after retirement, continuing to minister in churches and at the seminary. Southwestern awarded Goldia Naylor the Distinguished Alumnus Award in 1977; in 1989, she and her husband received Southwestern’s B.H. Carroll Founders Award. In 2001, Goldia Naylor was honored with the Mrs. J.M. Dawson Distinguished Service Award for Outstanding Minister’s Wife by the Southern Baptist Ministers’ Wives organization in recognition of distinct denominational contribution beyond the local church.

She is survived by two sons, Robert Naylor Jr. and Richard Naylor, and her daughter Rebekah; three grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

Rebekah Naylor worked with the International Mission Board for 35 years as a surgeon at the Bangalore Baptist Hospital in India. She also has served as an adjunct faculty member at Southwestern. Her ministry as a medical missionary is documented in the book “Rebekah Ann Naylor, M.D.: Missionary Surgeon in Changing Times.” Southwestern is in the process of gathering funds for an academic chair to be named the Rebekah Naylor Chair of Practical Missions.

Southwestern President Paige Patterson said Goldia Naylor “passed her years in grace and growing grace. Her impact at Southwestern was still growing. We loved her profoundly…. [S]he was also a genuinely devoted servant of Christ and one of the sweetest encouragers that I have ever had.”

Patterson announced that the seminary will cancel chapel on Wednesday morning, Feb. 3, and offices will be closed from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. to allow students, faculty and staff to attend the noon funeral service at Travis Avenue Baptist Church. Burial will be at Greenwood Cemetery. Funeral arrangements are being handled by the Thompson’s Harveson & Cole Funeral Home.

The family has asked that memorials be made to Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, designated for the Rebekah Naylor Chair of Practical Missions, or to the International Mission Board, SBC, designated for the Bangalore Baptist Hospital in India.
Keith Collier is director of news and information at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

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