Death of Ruth Alexander McDowell, former missionary to Angola

Death of Ruth Alexander McDowell, former missionary to Angola

Global Ministries is saddened to learn of the death of Ruth Alexander McDowell, former missionary to Angola.

1915 – 2011

Ruth Alexander McDowell, 96 years old, former missionary to Angola, former member of the United Church Board for World Ministries (UCBWM), and active in the Southern Conference of the United Church of Christ, Western North Carolina Association, died November 4, 2011, at the Asbury Care Center in Charlotte, North Carolina.

A native of Gaston County, North Carolina, Ruth was born March 25, 1915, to Cornelius V. and Ellen Gill Alexander. She was reared in the Lincoln Academy Community of Kings Mountain, North Carolina, receiving her primary and secondary education at her belovedLincolnAcademy. She continued her studies atBarberScotiaCollege,BennettCollege, and received her Bachelor of Science in Education from Teacher’s College, inWinston-Salem,North Carolina(nowWinstonSalemStateUniversity). She taught in Gaston andClevelandCountiesinNorth Carolina.

After marrying missionary-educator The Reverend Dr. Henry Curtis McDowell in 1944, the couple leftNorth Carolinawhen he was called to the Dixwell Avenue Congregational Church, inNew Haven,Connecticut. In 1947, Ruth was commissioned as a missionary by the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (ABCFM). The couple worked for 12 years inAngola,West Africa, where Ruth established a children’s clinic that served the health and nutritional needs of thousands of mothers and babies. On their retirement in 1959, the couple returned to theUnited Statesto again serve the church as Dr. McDowell accepted the call as founding pastor of the Church of the Open Door, inMiami,Florida. Following service inFlorida, the couple retired to their home inNorth Carolina. Dr. McDowell died in November 1989.

Ruth was a lifelong member of the United Church of Christ, providing leadership locally, nationally, and internationally. She organized her local “Just Say No” Club and served as Church Secretary, Sunday School teacher, and Chairperson of the Board of Trustees at First Congregational UCC inKingsMountain. She served on the United Church Board for World Ministries and on the Boards of Directors for the Southern Conference UCC, the Church Women UCC of Western North Carolina (also as President), Church Women United, and the United Church of Christ Retirement Home in Newton, North Carolina. She also served as Vice President of the North Carolina Council of Churches.

Ruth is survived by her cousins, Dr. Spurgeon W. Webber, Jr. and wife Loretta Jean Hill Webber; their son, Dr. Spurgeon W. Webber III and wife, Sterlin Benson Webber and daughter, Symphony; their daughter, Mrs. Deidra Webber Humphrey and husband, Hubert, and son, Tolison; Mrs. Mary Wainwright of Baltimore, Maryland, and Mrs. Anne McCoy of Nashville, Tennessee and her son, John Wesley, as well as her step grandson, The Reverend Mr. H. Lynn McDowell and wife Rose and their children, Mary Louise McDowell Lefaiver and husband Keith of Fort Myers, Florida., Henry Curtis II, Peter Alexander, Mr. McDowell’s sisters, Melody McDowell of Chicago, Illinois, and Sylvia McDowell Nash and husband Art of Scottsdale, Arizona and her Chicago area children, Angela Connor and husband John and children Curtis and Caroline, and Neal Wells and wife, Bethany and daughter, April. Mrs. McDowell also leaves behind a host of others who affectionately called her “Aunt Ruth.”

Funeral services were conducted by her grandson, The Rev. H. Lynn McDowell, at her home church, First Congregational United Church of Christ, inKingsMountain, where she worshiped God till her life’s end.

Gifts in memory of Ruth may be made to the Angola Memorial Scholarship Fund, in care of First Congregational United Church of Christ, 209 Cv Alexander Drive, Kings Mountain, NC 28086.

Click here to read tributes to Ruth Alexander McDowell