SHELBY - Frances Castanita Garrett Baumgardner, 92, went home to be with Jesus on Wednesday, January 13, 2021. She was born in Belfountaine, Alabama at home on June 20, 1928, and grew up on her grandfather’s farm there until she was 10 years old, when her parents moved to Cantonment, Florida. She graduated from Tate High School in Gonzalez, Florida in 1946. She spent a year at Asbury College in Wilmore, Kentucky, and then went on to Methodist Deaconess Hospital in Louisville, Kentucky, where she entered nursing school. She transferred to the Nursing School at Emory University in Decatur, Georgia in 1949 and there met her future husband, Stephens Baumgardner, who was then a medical student. She left nursing school in 1951 to marry Stephens, who had just been called up by the Army. They spent nine months at Fort Jackson in Columbia, South Carolina before being moved to Fort Riley, Kansas, where their first child, Stella Louise, was born. Stephens was honorably discharged from the Army in 1953 and the couple returned to the Pensacola area, before attending New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, where Stephens received a Master of Religious Education degree and Frances also received some seminary training. Frances served alongside her husband as he served nine years as a Director of Religious Education at Grace Baptist Church, Durham, North Carolina; First Baptist Church, Prentiss, Mississippi, Hilton Baptist Church, Newport News, Virginia, and Morningside Baptist Church, Atlanta, Georgia. Stephens was ordained to the Gospel Ministry at Morningside Baptist Church in 1967 and moved his family to Champion, Ohio where he and Frances and their three children founded Grace Baptist Church. Frances continued her faithful service alongside her husband as he pastored again at Utoy Springs Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia and Sharon Woods Baptist Church in Plattsburgh, New York, before being appointed a career missionary to Brazil by the Foreign Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention.
Stephens had to return to the United States for heart surgery, and the couple was forced to give up their life-long dream of foreign mission service. However, Frances had the pleasure of spending twelve years as a resource for her husband and the churches of the Bay Lakes Baptist Association in Green Bay, Wisconsin as Director of Missions wife. She served in many capacities for the association and the State Fellowship while in Green Bay. After retiring to Jacksonville, Florida, she helped her husband serve for three years as a part-time consultant to bivocational pastors for the Florida Baptist Convention. In 2002 her husband died and Frances sold her house in Jacksonville and moved with her youngest son, Joshua, and his wife Laurie to Richmond, VA to attend seminary together. She actually lived in an apartment on the floor with the other seminary students and became known as everyone’s grandma.
In 2006 Frances did something she had always wanted to do; she moved to the mountains. Her youngest son, Joshua and his wife, Laurie went with her. Joshua found Gardner-Webb here in Boiling Springs and began attending Divinity School. Eventually, she and Laurie joined Joshua in Shelby so the trio could be together. After a long life of selfless service and generosity, she died peacefully in her bed.
She is survived by her three children: Stephens L. Baumgardner, Jr., who is the Director of Business Services/CoExecutive for the Florida Baptist Convention; Stella B. Stout, who serves as a Pastor’s wife in a small church in ND; and her youngest son, Joshua, who lives in Shelby, and Laurie, Joshua’s wife, whom she called her “daughter-in-love”; her grandchildren, Jessica and Eddie Toliver and Zeke and Elijah Baumgardner; her brothers’ children, Buddy Garrett of Jackson, Mississippi; Sue Todd of Bay Minette, Alabama; and their children. She will be missed and mourned by all. She attended FBC Shelby when she was able and loved Tony’s sermons.
Mom asked that no memorial service be offered in her memory because she did not want to be the cause for someone to catch Covid-19. Instead, she offered her body up to science, hoping to help our doctors increase their knowledge of medical issues in the aging.
Condolences may be sent to 3032 Charles Rd., Shelby, NC 28152. Anyone wishing to send gifts is asked to send them to that address in her honor.
Thank you for your love and friendship over the years. The family wishes to express our deep appreciation for all of you who meant so much to mom over the years. Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers during this special time of celebration of a life well lived.
But all that is just the facts of a life. It says nothing of who Frances was and what she meant to the persons who were closest to her. The following is meant to convey who she was as a human being and a soul.
Eulogy to Mom
Mom brought everything that was loving and forgiving to this family
She accepted unconditionally
Her first priority was family relationships
She listened in silence even when what she heard caused her pain
She was generous to a fault giving away her assets when she may have had use for them paying laborers and house cleaners too much
in the name of Jesus always ministering to those who needed it more than she
If I had more of her I would forget the wrongs more consistently
If I had more of her I would listen better
If I had more of her I would hold my tongue more often
I would say, "A one-sided relationship is better than none at all."
I would say, "Never go back!"
I would say "Wee!" as I go down Fleetwood Trail as fast as I could
I would teach unselfishly studying hard each week to bring something new
I would offer up my bedroom as an altar to my children dressing behind my closet door the only privacy left to me but a place of absolute acceptance
If I had more of her I could make choices out of strength even if I were misunderstood as weak or living out of duty
If I had more of her I would live with acceptance out of choice, not of weakness I would comply for my own reasons
If I had more of her I would feel no compulsion to defend my choices
If she ever seemed angry or disappointed it was because her heart was broken
She never asked anything of us except to live honestly before God to own our actions and be honest with our own motivations
If I had more of her I would be more introspective thinking more deeply about my life and the lives of those I loved
If I had more of her I would need to talk things through in order to know how to best love the other in any situation
If I had more of her I would love to talk theology loving both the intellectual challenge of understanding and the challenge of applying it to my life and to the world's problems
If I had more of her I would I would never stop learning I would always be open to new knowledge and this made her interesting and fun to live with
She never stopped surprising
So many people would say, "You sure don't act like you're 80!"
Right on Mom!
Keep on learning
Keep on growing
Keep on changing
Keep on surprising
Keep on loving
Keep on accepting
Keep on forgiving
Keep on forging peace
Keep on fighting for justice in the world and righteousness in the church
Be that light
Life is changed by definition
If we are not changing, growing, surprising we might as well be a plant or a rock
I will always cherish your love, your unconditional acceptance, your joie de vive, your intellect, your child-like joy for life and all things sweet, your love of beauty, your love of my wife, your ability to speak your mind
(I wish you had done that more -I think your children would have benefitted from your wisdom, but your intention to live in peace as much as was possible with all men - I also honor)
This is a legacy that I can live with
It gives me consolation and peace to know that in your last years - I knew you best
I had the joy of living with you in your years of freedom, when you could flower and shine forth your goodness. when you could be as generous as you liked, when you could speak your mind, when you could love us fully
Thank you for the gift that was you, Thank you for the best years of your life when you lived out fully all that your experiences had brought to your understanding
Thank you for the peace of acceptance to my life
Pray for me that I will be the man you always knew I could be carrying you with me modeling your love, modeling your acceptance
I love you mom, I miss you
Be ready to meet me when my time comes to cross that unknown dark chasm and I will try to be worthy to make you proud to be the son you wished me to be
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Frances Castanita (Garrett) Baumgardner, please visit our floral store.