Dr. Martha C. Myers, the Southern Baptist missionary shot to death by an extremist in Yemen Dec. 30, was remembered as a person "mature beyond her years, especially in her Christian commitment," by a former teacher.

Dr. Mike Howell, her biology professor at Samford University, described Myers as a well-rounded person but one who was "absolutely serious" about becoming a medical missionary.

"She was a brilliant, hard-working person, good in things other than biology," he said. "She sang in the A Cappella Choir and edited the literary magazine, but there was never any doubt among the faculty that she was headed to the medical mission field."

Dr. Myers graduated from Samford in 1967 and the University of Alabama Medical School in 1971. An obstetrician, she served at Jibla Baptist Hospital in Yemen for more than 25 years.

"There aren't many people willing to dedicate their life to people, but she gave her all to people who were suffering," Howell said. "That's the greatest calling of a Christian."

Her father, Dr. Ira Myers of Montgomery, Ala., recalled his daughter speaking of the great need for medical care in Yemen. "She just depended on the Lord to take care of her," he said. "This is what she felt she ought to be doing and she did it."

Myers was killed along with two other hospital staff members, administrator William Koehn and purchasing manager Kathleen Gariety. Koehn's daughter, Janelda Pearce of Mansfield, Texas, is also graduate of Samford's nursing school.

A classmate of Myers at Samford, Bonnie Barnes Voit of Cullman, Ala., recalled that Myers had a commitment to medical missions that was "as clear as crystal" when they met as freshmen in 1963. "This clear call she felt to serve others empowered her even as a freshman majoring in premed."

Catherine Allen of Birmingham, another classmate, said Myers was "very focused and very productive." It was this focused personality and "a distinct calling of God" that enabled Myers to serve for so long in Yemen, said Allen.

"The Yemen hospital was the most enduring, visible and viable International Mission Board witness in the Middle East," said Allen, a former administrator of the Woman's Missionary Union.

Myers and Koehn were buried on the grounds of the hospital they had served for a quarter of a century.


Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. The Wall Street Journal ranks Samford 1st nationally for student engagement and U.S. News & World Report ranks Samford 37th in the nation for best undergraduate teaching and 97th nationally for best value. Samford enrolls 5,758 students from 48 states and 22 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference, and ranks 3rd nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.