DALLAS?Bessie “Betty” Marie Criswell, widow of legendary preacher and former Southern Baptist Convention President W.A. Criswell, died Aug. 2`at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas at the age of 93.
The cause of death was a respiratory illness, according to the Dallas Morning News, which described Betty Criswell as “a local legend herself, staunchly supporting her husband and teaching a Sunday school class that KCBI-FM (90.9) aired for nearly 30 years.”
The Web site of First Baptist Church in Dallas stated:
“Mrs. W.A. (Betty) Criswell?’Mrs. C’ as she was affectionately called?taught the Bible for over 70 years, most of those here at First Baptist Church of Dallas. She devoted herself to Dr. Criswell’s gospel ministry during his life, and after his death continued to preserve his legacy through First Baptist Church and The Criswell College.
“Mrs. C was a blessing and a beacon to all who knew her, as well as the many thousands who listened from her radio audience. We mourn her loss as a church family and staff and celebrate her homegoing to see her Savior face to face, Whom she has so wonderfully served.”
Betty Criswell came to Dallas in 1944 when her husband became First Baptist’s pastor. W.A. Criswell, a key figure in the SBC’s conservative resurgence and its emphasis on biblical inerrancy, was named pastor emeritus in 1994; he died in 2002 at the age of 92. The Criswells were married 67 years.
O.S. Hawkins, who led the Dallas church from 1993 until 1997 when he became president of the SBC’s GuideStone Financial Resources, said Betty Criswell was “a formidable force for decades alongside her husband at First Baptist Church. During our years of pastoring there she was always kind and supportive of all the Hawkins’ family. Her death now closes the long and blessed Criswell chapter in the volume that tells the story of the ministry of the First Baptist Church in Dallas.”