Obituary: Mrs. W.A. “Betty” Criswell

W.A. Criswell’s widow,
Betty, dies at 93
By Art Toalston

DALLAS (BP)–Bessie “Betty” Marie Criswell, widow of legendary preacherand former Southern Baptist Convention President W.A. Criswell, died Aug.2`at the Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas at the age of 92.

The cause of death was a respiratory illness, according to the DallasMorning News, which described Betty Criswell as “a local legend herself, staunchly supporting her husband and teaching a Sunday school class that KCBI-FM (90.9) aired for nearly 30 years.”

The website of First Baptist Church in Dallas stated:

“Mrs. W.A. (Betty) Criswell –- ‘Mrs. C’ as she was affectionately called– taught the Bible for over 70 years, most of those here at FirstBaptist Church of Dallas. She devoted herself to Dr. Criswell’s gospel ministry during his life, and after his death continued to preserve his legacy through First Baptist Church and The Criswell College.

“Mrs. C was a blessing and a beacon to all who knew her, as well as themany thousands who listened from her radio audience. We mourn her loss as a church family and staff and celebrate her homegoing to see her Savior face to face, Whom she has so wonderfully served.”

Betty Criswell came to Dallas in 1944 when her husband became First Baptist’s pastor. W.A. Criswell, a key figure in the SBC’s conservative resurgence and its emphasis on biblical inerrancy, was named pastor emeritus in 1994; he died in 2002 at the age of 92.

O.S. Hawkins, who led the Dallas church from 1993-97 when he became president of the SBC’s GuideStone Financial Resources, said Betty Criswell “was a formidable force for decades alongside her husband at First Baptist Church. During our years of pastoring there she was always kind and supportive of all the Hawkins’ family. Her death now closes the long and blessed Criswell chapter in the volume that tells the story of the ministry of the First Baptist Church in Dallas.”

Mac Brunson, pastor of the church from 1999 until moving to the pastorate of First Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Fla., was unavailable for comment Aug. 3.

Evangelist Billy Graham, who has been a longtime member of First Baptist in Dallas, issued a written statement: “We join in rejoicing that Betty Criswell has joined her beloved husband in heaven at the feet of the Lord Jesus Christ, whom she has served for so long. Her tremendous ministry will be greatly missed at First Baptist Church of Dallas.”

Betty Criswell, who led her Sunday School class in studies throughout the books of the Old and New Testament, last taught on July 9, the Dallas Morning News reported. She “was a force in the church in her own right, not least by building a Sunday school class attended by 200 to 300 people and broadcast on radio throughout the region,” the newspaper noted.

A graduate of Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green, she first met Criswell when he came to her hometown of Mount Washington, Ky., to lead a prayer service, the Morning News recounted. They were married in 1935 in the chapel of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville.

She is survived by two grandsons; the Criswells’ daughter, Mable Ann, died in 2002 as did W.A. Criswell.

A memorial Service will be held at noon Tuesday, Aug. 8, in the sanctuary of First Baptist, 1707 San Jacinto in downtown Dallas. Robert Jeffress, pastor of First Baptist Church in Wichita Falls, Texas, will officiate.Jeffress grew up in the church and later served as its youth minister. Visitation will be from 5-8 p.m. Monday, Aug. 7, also in the church sanctuary.

Flowers may be delivered to the sanctuary on August 7, while memorialgifts in memory of Betty Criswell may be made to the the W.A. and Betty Criswell Scholarship Fund Baptist in care of the Foundation of Texas, 1601 Elm St., Suite 1700, Dallas, TX 75201.

Godspeed, Mrs. Criswell. Your husband and daughter are rejoicing today with you in the House of the Lord. May you dwell there richly.

Explore posts in the same categories: Southern Baptist Convention

2 Comments on “Obituary: Mrs. W.A. “Betty” Criswell”

  1. Allan Says:

    Welcome home, the Lord said as He took her by the hand.

  2. Debbiewimmers Says:

    WA probably said ‘What took you so long?’

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