Frances "Lois" Persons, passed to her heavenly home - at 11:55 p.m. on Sunday, June 29, 2003. She will be deeply missed by her husband, Maurice, two sons, David and John and their spouses, five - grandchildren, two great-grandchildren and a sister. Born in Chadwell, England on March 11, 1913, she came to the U.S. in 1929. After graduation from Chicago Evangelistic Institute she enrolled at Asbury College in Wilmore, KY, but interrupted her studies to respond to an invitation to go as a missionary to Zimbabwe. There she taught in the Bible Institute, edited a journal for the mission and assisted the director of the mission. After three years she returned to Asbury to finish her degree. On September 13, 1941, she married Maurice Persons whom she had met as a fellow student at Chicago Evangelistic Institute. Their first year of marriage was spent in Oregon where Maurice was pastoring two small churches while finishing his degree at Willamette University. In 1942 they were appointed by the Methodist Board of Missions to Liberia, where Maurice served as principal and Lois as a teacher in the Methodist high school. Three years later they were transferred to the Congo where they served for many years. Lois learned Swahili and taught it to new missionaries. She conducted classes for the development of the African women and was treasurer for the mission. She was a frequent hostess for missionaries coming and going from the interior. But first and foremost, Lois was always a wife and helpmate to Maurice and Mom to her sons. Political turmoil over the independence of Congo necessitated several evacuations. During one period when it was unsafe for wives to be with their husbands in Congo, Lois taught Swahili at the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, CA. In 1969 Lois and Maurice were assigned to responsible positions at the headquarters of the United Methodist Board of Missions in New York City. In 1977 they returned to the Congo where they served until retirement in Phoenix, Arizona in 1980. Lois was active in the Aldersgate United Methodist Church and spoke frequently in other churches. A resident of the Beatitudes since 1989, Lois served as secretary to the "Religious Life Council" and corresponding secretary for the Beatitudes Auxiliary. When asked recently why she decided to become a missionary, she replied, "I felt God's call to serve when I was thirteen years old." She was faithful to that call to the end, always seeking ways to serve. A Memorial Praise service will be held in the Beatitudes Life Center at the Beatitudes Campus of Care, 1610 W. Glendale Ave., Phoenix, AZ at 1:00 p.m. on Saturday, July 19, 2003. Memorial donations may be made to the Beatitudes Campus of Care or to the Aldersgate Church Foundation.
Published in The Arizona Republic on Jul. 17, 2003.