Obituary: Gene Sawyer Smith

Gene Sawyer Smith, 91, of Sumter and wife of the late Kirk Smith, a longtime pastor in South Carolina, died July 22, 2019, following the onset of a sudden illness.

A native of Tampa, Fla., she attended the University of South Carolina, and continued her education in Louisville, Ky., at the Woman’s Missionary Union Training School with a master’s degree in religious education while her husband was studying for the ministry at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

The Smiths began their ministry at First Baptist Church of Chesterfield, and later served at First Baptist Church of West Point, Ga., and Oakland Baptist Church, Rock Hill. They moved from Rock Hill to Columbia, where her husband served with the South Carolina Baptist Convention. In 1977, they answered the call to serve at First Baptist Church in Sumter, where they remained until retirement in 1990. During this time, she taught Sunday school and served as a trustee at Charleston Southern University. They continued to live in Sumter following retirement and served at several area churches in interim capacities, where she would often accompany her husband by playing the piano for the worship services.

She was a member of First Baptist Church of Sumter at the time of her death.

Survivors include three sons, seven grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. She was preceded in death by a daughter-in-law, Anne.