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IMB/LifeWay missionary Evelyn Woolridge dies in Nairobi following surgery

NAIROBI, Kenya (BP)–Southern Baptist missionary Evelyn Woolridge died in Nairobi, Kenya, May 26 of pneumonia following gall bladder surgery. She was 41.

Woolridge and her husband, Michael, had served since January 1999 in a unique arrangement that had them serving as international consultants for LifeWay Christian Resources through the International Mission Board.

The couple and their five children had been scheduled to return May 30 to Nashville, Tenn., where he was to continue his work with LifeWay.

Evelyn Woolridge had a missionary’s heart for the people of Africa, said LifeWay President James T. Draper Jr.

“We at LifeWay are deeply grieved by Evelyn’s passing but are confident in the Lord’s provision,” Draper said. “We continue to lift Michael and his family up in our prayers.

“Although Michael and Evelyn represent LifeWay through the International Mission Board, he and Evelyn took seriously Jesus’ Great Commission. They have had a great love for the people of Africa.”

The Woolridges were trailblazers in their roles as LifeWay representatives through the International Mission Board, said IMB President Jerry Rankin.

“Michael and Evelyn were pioneers in going to East Africa in a unique IMB assignment as LifeWay Christian Resource representatives,” Rankin said. “They were so effective and so identified with the people and the churches that they extended their term.

“We are grateful for their dedication and the unique contribution they made to the expansion of God’s Kingdom. We are praying for Evelyn’s family, her missionary colleagues and national coworkers and share their grief in this tragic loss.”

While her husband worked in his consultant’s role for LifeWay,
Evelyn Woolridge had served in Kenya in a variety of ways, including secretarial assistance and organizing women’s events and other meetings.

She also served as secretary for the Parent Teacher Fellowship at Nairobi’s Rosslyn Academy, where her eldest four daughters have been attending school.

On April 29, Woolridge had elective gall bladder surgery in Nairobi. A few days after her discharge from the hospital, a doctor discovered during a routine postoperative checkup that she had pneumonia. She was readmitted to Nairobi’s Aga Khan hospital on May 7. Her condition worsened, and she was transferred to the hospital’s intensive care unit on May 10.

Woolridge was born Feb. 5, 1962 in London, England, and emigrated to the United States in 1982 to join her mother and brothers. She met Michael at First Baptist Church in Hyattsville, Md., where he was serving part-time as minister of missions and outreach. They were married Dec. 31, 1988.

Prior to missionary appointment, she served five years as deputy clerk for the Tennessee Supreme Court and was a member of Miracle Baptist Church in LaVergne, Tenn.

She is survived by her husband; five daughters, Patricia, 12, Judith, 10, Michaela, 8, Rebekkah, 6, and Mary-Ruth, 4; her mother, Agatha LaTouche, who lived with the family in Nairobi; her father, Cutthbert Leo; six brothers and one sister.

A memorial service has been scheduled for May 30 at Parklands Baptist Church in Nairobi. Arrangements for a service in the United States are pending.
(BP) photos posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo titles: PRAISED FOR DEDICATION and MISSIONARY & MOTHER.

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  • Clinton Wolf