Obituary: Betty Dilday

Betty Dilday, former first lady of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, died Aug. 9 of complications from pulmonary fibrosis. She was 87.

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Betty Louise Doyen Dilday, former first lady of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary,  died Aug. 9 of complications from pulmonary fibrosis. She was 87. She was born April 8, 1931 in Houston to Jewel and Lavergne Doyen. She accepted Christ as her Savior at age 9 and was baptized at First Baptist Church in Houston. She received her undergraduate degree in English from Baylor University, where she met her future husband, Russell, in Bible class their junior year. They married Aug. 15, 1952. Later, she did graduate study at Georgia State University and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, as well as the B.H. Carroll Theological Institute, where she earned a Master of Arts in Religion degree. She taught school in Fort Worth when her husband was in seminary and in Georgia when he was pastor of Second-Ponce de Leon Baptist Church in Atlanta. She served all her adult life as a Bible teacher, graded choir assistant, and missions leader. She served alongside her husband 17 years in Texas and Georgia as a pastor’s wife, for 16 years when he was president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and for one year when he was interim president of Howard Payne University. In Atlanta and Dallas, she developed a ministry by encouraging women to serve as volunteers to take smaller arrangements from the large altar flower arrangement to hospitals and shut-ins. In 2011, she was named Woman of Distinction by the Baylor Dallas Women’s Council, and in 2017, the Baylor Line Foundation awarded the R.H. Dilday family the title Baylor’s First Family. She and her husband traveled extensively to six continents visiting missionaries and encouraging Baptist work there. She is survived by her husband of 66 years, Russell; their son Robert and their daughters, Nancy Duck and Ellen Garrett; nine grandchildren and two great-children.

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