CENTRALIA — Betty Jo Lewis, 64, of Centralia died Feb. 10 at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. She was the wife of Larry Lewis, former president of the Southern Baptist Home Mission Board (1987-96) and of Hannibal-LaGrange College (1981-87).
The couple had lived for the past several years on a farm north of Centralia, her husband’s hometown.
Funeral services will be at 11 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 15, at First Baptist Church in Centralia, of which she was a member. Visitation will be from 6-8 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 14, at Fenton Funeral Chapel in Centralia and just prior to the funeral.
Betty Jo Lewis was an accomplished soloist, a Bible teacher and the author of a book, “Hand in Hand: Partners Working Together with God.” She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in education from HLG.
She also was a pastor’s wife, serving alongside her husband in pastorates in Ohio, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Missouri. He was pastor of Tower Grove Baptist Church in St. Louis before going to HLG.
“Those who knew her knew that they could always find a smile on her face and a song in her heart,” said HLG president Woodrow Burt.
Added Burt’s wife, Katherine, assistant professor of English at HLG, “Betty Jo was a warm and gracious person who was a great supporter of her husband, her family and Hannibal-LaGrange College. Among things I’ll always remember about her are her genuine faith and contagious laughter.”
Betty Jo Lewis was born Aug. 4, 1943, in Ft. Worth, Texas, the daughter of the late Rayford and Blanch Carey Cockerell. She and her husband were married on Feb. 28, 1964, in Fort Worth.
Survivors include her husband; two daughters, Janet Saidi of Columbia, and Christy Forte of Granada Hills, Calif.; a son, Mark Lewis of Albuquerque, N.M.; two brothers, Larry Cockerell of Kimberling City and Carey Cockerell of Austin, Texas; and three granddaughters.
The family requests that memorial gifts be made to the Betty Jo Cockerell Lewis Scholarship at Hannibal-LaGrange College (www.hlg.edu).