Baptist pioneer Helen Driscoll dies at 93

Baptist Press
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Posted: Dec 10, 2009 5:30 PM
NEW ORLEANS (BP)--Helen Driscoll, one of the first female graduates of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary as well as a trailblazing Christian educator, has died at 93.

Driscoll died Dec. 6 in Metarie, La., in the New Orleans area. In 1956, she and her husband, the late pastor Paul Driscoll, founded Mid-City Baptist School, now Crescent City Christian School in Metairie, which serves children from daycare through high school. Driscoll also authored two books and numerous Bible study materials.

"In a day when Southern Baptists were training very few women in Bible and theology, she was determined to get the finest theological training available in order to render outstanding service to the Kingdom of God," NOBTS President Chuck Kelley said.

"She and her husband planted their lives in this difficult city of New Orleans and probably led more of its citizens to Christ than any other Baptist pastor and wife in the history of New Orleans. Her intelligence, evangelistic zeal, teaching ability and supreme love for Jesus above all other things were greatly admired and will be long remembered," Kelley said.

Helen Driscoll's life had a profound impact on Dorothy Patterson, wife of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary President Paige Patterson, who noted, "If I were asked to name five or six of the most significant mentors in my life, Helen Driscoll would be one." The Pattersons were members of Mid-City Baptist Church during their time as students at NOBTS.

Patterson called Driscoll an "extraordinarily gifted woman" who put aside her own ambition to work alongside her husband -- caring for her family, serving the church, winning the lost and discipling believers. It is estimated that in her 46 years as a headmistress, principal and teacher, she educated thousands of children. And, even at 90, as an active member of Williams Boulevard Baptist Church, she would walk through neighborhoods, sharing the Gospel of Christ door-to-door.

Illness made Patterson's seminary days at NOBTS a challenge, but Driscoll was a wellspring of encouragement. "I probably would have fallen by the wayside had it not been for the encouragement of my husband and the example of Helen Driscoll," Patterson said. "She served as an example and shining light for me in some very difficult days."

Born in Marlowe, Tenn., Helen Wilson Driscoll graduated magna cum laude from Carson-Newman College in Jefferson City, Tenn. In 1944, she graduated from New Orleans Seminary with the master of theology degree. She then taught on the seminary faculty for three years.

In 1948, she married J. Paul Driscoll and they served 58 years at Mid-City/Crescent City Baptist Church and its education ministry. Paul Driscoll died in 2000.

Helen Driscoll wrote two books, "Around the World in Fifty Days" and "God's Redemptive Plan Revealed in the Old Testament."

She is survived by her daughter, Joani Driscoll Dockery of Arlington, Texas, and two grandsons Sean and Timothy Dockery.

A celebration of Driscoll's life is planned for 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 11, at Williams Boulevard Baptist Church in Kenner, La. The family requests donations to Williams Boulevard Baptist Church, Crescent City Christian School, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary or Carson-Newman College.

Reported by the public relations staff at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.

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