Jody Towery, born March 4, 1930 in Climax, Texas, died Saturday, Feb. 8, at the age of 83 in her home in San Angelo, Texas. Her mother, Lucille McCormick, raised her beginning on a farm near Farmersville, Texas.
A born teacher, who even in her teens, taught Vacation Bible Schools for black church’s children, went on to Howard Payne University gaining a B.S. in Elementary Education in 1951.
She was married to Britt Towery Jr. in Brownwood, Texas, July 28, 1950, and served in many Baptist churches where Britt was pastor: Mt. Zion (Brown County), Stag Creek (Comanche County), First Baptist Church, Eustace, Texas, San Antonio, Texas. She, with her husband founded and developed the First Baptist Church of San Manuel, Arizona (1954).
Jody and Britt were appointed Southern Baptist missionaries by the International Mission Board, Richmond, Va., Dec. 20, 1956, to the Republic of China, Taiwan. Ten years in Taiwan resulted, among others, in the founding and building of the Pingtung Baptist Church in the southern part of the island.
Adept at the Chinese language she worked in Taipei, Keelung, Pingtung and Kaohsiung churches. She led a kindergarten for American military family children. Her English Bible class in Pingtung reached a young Chinese teenager who later became an outstanding Taiwan Christian pastor.
In 1966 she taught 7th Form students in the Pui Ching Middle School, Kowloon, Hong Kong and later classes in the early years of Hong Kong Baptist University. She also taught a year at the Hong Kong International School
The years 1982-1992 she was instrumental in making and developing friendships with the China Mainland Christian churches in 20 provinces of China. Churches began to re-open on the mainland in 1979. She was a bridge between American churches and those emerging from the 1966-1977 Cultural Revolution years.
She was invited to teach special theological English to the graduate students of the Nanjing Theological Seminary the fall semester of 1989. She was teaching an English class at the University of Nanjing when news broke of the fall of the Berlin Wall. An exciting and edgy time for students who had just been a part of the democracy protests in many cities, most notably in the Tian’anmen Square tragedy of June 4, 1989.
Upon retirement from the IMB she taught three years in the Marlin, Texas, elementary system. Became a fan of Baylor University baseball and basketball just a block from her home. She did enjoy watching any Baylor team play.
Honors: Howard Payne University, Brownwood, Texas, Medal of Service, Oct. 30, 1992; Annual Lottie Moon Citation from the First Baptist Church of Dallas, Texas, December, 1990 ; Farmersville High School Ex-students Hall of Fame, 2006; Women’s Missionary Society of Hong Kong citation, 1985; production team filming first documentary after China churches began opening, 1984, “Winter Has Passed,” Southern Baptist Convention International Mission Board, Richmond, Va.
Besides her husband, she is survived by two daughters, Linda Holder, of Waco and Patricia Mayland Douglass Towery of San Angelo; a sister, LaVerne Whitaker, Farmersville, Texas; and three grandsons, Greg Garcia and wife Tiffany, of Waco, Texas; Britt and wife Ashley Garcia; great-grandsons, Emerson Garcia of Grapevine, Texas, and Zane Mayland of San Angelo; and numerous nephews and nieces.
Word of gratitude to the health care friends of the Baptist Memorial Retirement Center, San Angelo Hospice and Dr. John Harvey. A memorial service is planned. Instead of cards or flowers, gifts in her name to the Howard Payne University Scholarship fund would please and honor her.