by Keith Smith

Willie and Mary Smith, longtime residents of Macon, Missouri, celebrate their 70th anniversary. They met and fell in love in Jacksonville, Texas as Willie pursued a college degree and Mary was finishing up her senior year in high school. Willie asked her, “Would you marry me and be my Mary?” and her “Yes” was immediate, even though she didn’t vocalize it. In fact, it took her a while to speak because she felt she had been waiting so long for him to ask her that she was near tears. Mary’s father, Elder Elbert E. Sipes, united them in marriage at Jacksonville Baptist College Chapel on a warm, partly cloudy day, August 15, 1953.

Willie, a Baptist preacher since age 17, blessed many people with the power of God’s Word as he pastored churches in Texas, Michigan and Missouri. He also obeyed the call to be a missionary to Calgary, Alberta in the late 1960s through the mid 1970s. The Holy Spirit has opened doors for him to share life in Jesus to many hundreds of people in large venues and, often, to speak with just one person experiencing heartache and addictions. Mary greatly aided Willie’s ministry through prayer, music and teaching. An accomplished pianist and vocalist, Mary skillfully and enthusiastically taught piano and vocals since the 1960s until a few years ago. She also authored three books, “Love Reaching”, “A Little Girl and a Big Farm” and “Bob Dog”. Her cooking became renown among many grandchildren and friends of those grandchildren.

Willie and Mary are residents of Heisinger Bluffs West in Jefferson City. They thoroughly enjoy each other’s company and brighten the lives of all the staff, too. They also enjoy worshiping the Lord, praying, keeping up with family news and seeing visitors (especially talking and laughing with their beloved daughter-in-law, Debra).

Willie and Mary have three sons: Wayne (deceased), Gary and Keith Laird. They have been blessed with four grandchildren (Katherine in Springfield, MO, Elyssa in Reno, NV, Kurt in Springfield, MO and Lacey in Columbia, MO) and four great-grandchildren (Atreus in Springfield, MO, Henrietta “Etta” of Reno, NV and Jericho and Oliver of Columbia, MO).