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Victoria Tolbert, 81, dies, wife of slain Liberian leader

MINNEAPOLIS (BP)–Victoria Tolbert, 81, died Nov. 8 in Minneapolis after a long illness. She was the wife of the late William R. Tolbert, president of the Baptist World Alliance from 1965-70 and president of Liberia from 1971 until his assassination in 1980.
Denton Lotz, general secretary of the BWA, in a letter to her son, William R. Tolbert in New York, said in the days of Victoria Tolbert’s suffering after the brutal death of her husband and the resulting turmoil in Liberia, she “kept her Christian charity and composure in a remarkable way.”
Lotz described her as “a source of joy and encouragement to Baptists around the world.”
Earlier this year, McCalester Park Publishing released her autobiography, “Lifted Up,” in which she told the story of her life with President Tolbert, how she experienced God’s grace and love, was able to forgive and continue her life after his death.
President Tolbert’s death sparked more than 15 years of civil war in Liberia that ended this year with peaceful elections in July.
“We pray that the new peace that has come to Liberia may indeed issue into a Liberia of freedom and justice for all,” Lotz wrote, “and that the death of Dr. Tolbert will not have been in vain but will be looked upon as a milestone in Liberian history with the beginning of justice for all people.”
Victoria Tolbert’s last appearance at a BWA meeting was the Baptist World Congress, Seoul Korea, in 1990 when she addressed the crowd and her daughter Christine prayed. This was the first Baptist congress which hundreds of Eastern Europeans could attend after the fall of the Berlin Wall. President Tolbert had visited and encouraged them during his BWA presidency.
Funeral services will be Nov. 22 at the Manhattanville Chapel Purchase, New York. Condolences may be sent to Mr. and Mrs. William V. Furman Jr., 9 Springdale Road, Scarsdale, NY 10583. Memorial contributions may be made to the Baptist Theological Seminary or Isaac Davis School and SOS Children’s Village in Monrovia, Liberia.

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  • Wendy Ryan