Marie Spangler is the director of Shepherdness International.

Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies." In Kay, Reggie found that priceless jewel. His heart could safely trust in her. She did him good, and not evil, all the days of her life. She stretched out her hand to the poor; she reached forth her hands to the needy. Strength and honor were her clothing. She opened her mouth with wisdom, and in her tongue was the law of kindness. "Her children arise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her. . . . Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates." Kay's life typified these beautiful thoughts taken from Proverbs 31. She was a true mother in Israel.

MINISTRY readers met her through her friendly, personable note prefacing articles for pastors' wives, and always signed "With love, Kay."

Her career as a shepherdess began in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, when Reggie, her minister husband, was called to his first pastorate. Through the years Kay demonstrated a love for the Lord and her fellow members by ministering to them in an unusually warm, friendly way. Her magnetic personality, contagious smile, and sparkling sense of humor created an atmosphere of true hospitality. Her loving outreach often smoothed troubled waters and lifted spirits.

When Reggie was elected president of the Texico Conference, a new sphere of ministry opened for Kay. Her love and concern were seen in the special interest she took in the ministers' wives. Her guidance, support, and creativity enriched the lives of fellow shepherdesses. From personal experience I know what a marvelous shepherdess and homemaker Kay was. My husband and I did not stay in a motel while looking for a place in which to live when Reggie invited us to pastor the Fort Worth church. Their home was ours while we searched. In their warm and hospitable way they made us feel as if we were their very own children.

Kay's warmth and support was felt Sabbath after Sabbath when she cheer fully greeted my husband after the morning service with the question "How is our pastor today?" She knew every one of the five hundred members by name. She was aware of who was in the hospital, who was discouraged, and who needed special help. Bob referred to her as assistant pastor because she kept him abreast of the people's needs.

In 1966 Kay's ministry to pastors' wives gained momentum and strength as she focused her attention on pastors' wives around the world when Reggie was called to be the secretary of the Ministerial Association of the General Conference. Her work with the shepherdesses of the church grew into an important phase of the Ministerial Association. She was a shining light that lit the path for literally thousands of ministers' wives around the world. With enthusiasm she spoke to ministers' wives at workers' meetings and camp meetings, sharing with them her trust in God and her belief in the importance of the work they were doing as helpmates to their husbands. These visits to all parts of the world as she traveled with Reggie resulted in the development of Shepherdess organizations in many areas. As each General Conference session and Annual Council convened, women from around the world looked forward to attending meetings she planned especially for them.

Although she was a professional nurse, Kay's energies were ever used in helping the wives of ministers. Her work pioneered the way for Shepherdess International. She received no salary. She did it for love, for the Lord, and because of her interest in seeing wives help their husbands in finishing God's work. She loved her role as a minister's wife. Reggie's life of service was also her life of service. Those who know the Dowers believe that God called both of them into the ministry.

The following incident typifies the spirit with which Kay met life as it came. Reggie accepted an assignment to take part in seven different baptisms in various parts of the island of Jamaica. Kay loved the baptisms and meeting new friends. To get to the places of baptism and meet the time schedule set up, she and Reggie had to go by single-engine plane. Kay was petrified. The little plane skimmed treetops and scattered sheep and cattle as they landed on less than adequate landing strips. All the while in flight Kay sat by Reggie, squeezing his hand and singing, " 'Under His wings I am safely abiding.' "

During the past several years while Kay experienced months of illness, she rested securely under those wings. A favorite promise was "Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will uphold thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness. . . . For I the Lord thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I wilt help thee" (Isa. 41:10-13). Kay believed such promises. She had a living faith in them. These were not mere words printed on a page, but the words of the Almighty. She took them at face value. Kay tasted of the Lord. She trusted Him fully, and her trust was unshaken.

Those of us who walked closely with her realized how she not only believed but lived another favorite text: "Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart" (Ps. 27:14). She was always full of courage and cheerfulness as she ministered to both old and young. When Satan assaulted her physically, she knew that Christ had won the victory over Satan, and she knew His victory was her victory! Hers was a victorious climax to a life dedicated to God, her family, and friends.

"Those who walk uprightly enter into peace; they find rest as they lie in death" (Isa. 57:2, N.I.V.). As Kay lived safely under the wings of the Almighty, so in death she is resting safely under His wings.

All who knew Kay could say in the words of Jean Wickham:

"I knew that God had touched you,

For on the day we met I saw His gentleness and love

Shine through your smile--and yet

I sensed you were not perfect

But struggling like the rest

To live and walk with God each day

And challenge every test.

"Blessed is the Lord who sent you

To share your peaceful ways,

Touching all with love and joy

As you journeyed every day. . . .

I'm grateful for 'your gift,'

For your sharings and your prayers.

There's nothing quite as priceless

As a faithful friend who cares." *

Editor's note: Following the General Conference session, Kay received hundreds of cards, letters, and telephone calls. These contacts brought great courage and comfort to her heart, and she wanted it known that she was most grateful to all for their thoughts and prayers. She wanted to write to each one, expressing her gratitude for his or her concern, but this was impossible. Before she died it was her desire to let the shepherdesses around the world know that she and look with great longing/or the soon return of the Lord Jesus, in whom they have placed their full confidence and trust.

Ministry reserves the right to approve, disapprove, and delete comments at our discretion and will not be able to respond to inquiries about these comments. Please ensure that your words are respectful, courteous, and relevant.

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Marie Spangler is the director of Shepherdness International.

February 1986

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