“Jeannie Elliff dies after battle with cancer”
By Katie Coleman on Jul 21, 2015
After a nine-year battle with cancer, Jeannie Elliff, beloved wife of former Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) and International Mission Board (IMB) president and Southwestern alumnus Tom Elliff, passed away July 21.
After graduating from Southwestern in 1971, Elliff’s husband, Tom, pastored churches in Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas and Colorado. The Elliffs served as IMB missionaries in Zimbabwe from 1981-1983. Elliff also served alongside her husband while he was president of the SBC for two consecutive terms, and later president of the IMB for three years.
In 2014, Elliff was honored with the Willie Turner Dawson Award during the Ministers’ Wives Luncheon at the annual meeting of the SBC. The award is given to a minister’s wife recognized for making a distinct denominational contribution beyond the local church. She co-authored Letters to Lovers: Wisdom for Every Season of Your Marriage with her husband and was a frequent guest on “FamilyLife Today.” Elliff is known by many for her intercessory prayer for missionaries and encouragement to women.
Charles Patrick, vice president for strategic initiatives at Southwestern Seminary, attests to this by recalling, “When my wife and I were going through the IMB application process, Mrs. Elliff personally called my wife to answer any concerns she had about being on the field with three toddlers and an infant. I was amazed that the wife of the IMB president took the time out of her busy day to call and encourage my wife.” That was who Elliff was—a voice and encouragement for women.
Dorothy Patterson, wife of Southwestern Seminary president Paige Patterson, says of Jeannie Elliff, “[She] was an extraordinary woman—a wife who joyfully helped her husband, a mother who diligently nurtured her children, and a grandmother who creatively invested in her grandchildren. Her influence reached far beyond the family circle. She was mentoring and faithful to me and other friends; and then via her life, testimony, godly counsel, and prayers she reached multiple generations of women literally around the world. No one has encouraged me more in the woman-to-woman teaching we are doing here at Southwestern, and no one shared my passion for the importance of the homemaker more than did Jeannie Elliff. In fact, I can say without doubt that, in true Southwestern tradition, ‘The sun never set on Jeannie Elliff’ and her outpouring of all she had for the Savior into whose arms she has now been received.
So, may I call to the battlefield of this sin-infested world godly wives and mothers who will now work even harder to carry forward this tradition and legacy left by our godly ‘Mother of Southern Baptists’—Jeannie Elliff. Love your families and invest in their lives; share the good news of Jesus Christ with every person who crosses your path, knowing that Christ indeed died for everyone in this world; pray for the lost around the world—many of whom have never heard the gospel, for those who labor in kingdom vineyards—some far from the comforts of home and in the midst of hostile forces–and for those who carry burdens of suffering and pain! Honor Jeannie’s life by living out her legacy!”
Elliff is survived by her husband, Tom; four children and 25 grandchildren. A memorial celebration will be held at 11 a.m. on July 24 at First Southern Baptist Church, Del City, Okla.
As originally seen on swbts.us/1Mn7TJz