Smith, Winnifred Watson

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Winnifred Watson Smith (Mrs. Joseph M.) died Saturday, September 15, 2007 at Heritage House, Blacksburg Virginia after suffering from Alzheimer’s since 2003.

Mrs. Smith was a former missionary to China and the Philippines. An ordained minister, she and her husband, Dr. Joseph M. Smith, went to China under the auspices of the United Christian Missionary Society of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in 1940 immediately after they were married. Soon after their arrival in China they were transferred to the Philippines to continue Chinese language study because of the threat of war between the United States and Japan.

Following Pearl Harbor and the invasion of the Philippines, the Japanese placed them in a civilian internment camp with their five-month old son. Upon their release in 1945, Mrs. Smith brought their son to the States while Mr. Smith returned several months later. After recuperation and further language study, they returned to China to engage in rural evangelistic work. One year later, the imminent victory of the Communists in the civil war and the illness of their older son caused Mrs. Smith to return to the States with their two sons.

While living in California, she traveled extensively speaking on the situation in China and leading in church-sponsored conferences. Mrs. Smith has worked in various positions in the church in Lynchburg, Virginia since her teens and, later, in Seattle, Washington. She also directed activities in settlement houses in New Haven, Connecticut and Chicago, Illinois. She led social and recreational activities for migrant workers in Connecticut and, prior to her marriage, she was Director of Student Work in the First Christian Church of Columbia, Missouri. In 1957-1958, she served as Director of the Purdue Christian Foundation in Lafayette, Indiana.

Mrs. Smith also served in various positions of leadership in the regional and general life of the church. She served as Vice President of the International Convention of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in 1964-1966. Among the national bodies of the church on which she has served are the Board of Trustees of the United Christian Missionary Society, the Board of Directors of the International Convention, and the Board of Higher Education. Prior to her retirement in 1976, she worked for seven years as Program Correlator and Executive Associate of the Indianapolis YWCA.

Following her retirement, she served as interim minister of three Christian churches in Illinois and Indiana under the auspices of the Division of Homeland Ministries. She has been an active participant in the Disciples Peace Fellowship serving one term as Vice-President. After retiring to north Georgia in 1979, Mrs. Smith and her husband served as interim co-pastors in Winder, Georgia, St. Louis, Missouri, Waynesboro, Tennessee, Chattanooga, Tennessee and Covington, Virginia.

Born in Lexington, Kentucky, 1911, Mrs. Smith received her B.A. degree from Lynchburg College and her Master’s degree from Chicago Theological Seminary. She also studied at Yale Divinity School and Northwestern University.

She is the mother of three children and has six grandchildren.

A visitation will be held at the Blacksburg Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) Wednesday, September 19, 2007 at 10 a.m. followed by a memorial service at 11 a.m. with a fellowship meal after the service. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Disciples Peace Fellowship, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) 130 East Washington Street, Indianapolis, Indiana 46204-3645 or the Blacksburg Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) 240 Watson Ave., Blacksburg, Va. 24060. Arrangements by McCoy Funeral Home Blacksburg, Va.