June 20, 1916 – October 9, 2013
Elizabeth Reynolds Canon, Free Methodist missionary to Latin America for 35 years (1949-1984), passed away October 9, 2013, in Gerry, NY. Funeral services took place at Heritage Ministries, Gerry, NY, on October 12.
Elizabeth Reynolds, better known as Betty, was born on a farm near Lakewood, Pennsylvania, the oldest child in a family of four. Her mother passed away when Betty was 13. Betty then assumed much responsibility in helping her father run the household. She became a Christian at the age of 17. In spite of her home responsibilities, Betty was active in church and at school.
In 1937, Betty moved to Binghamton, New York, and earned money doing housework for a family. She entered nurse’s training five years later at the Wilson Memorial Hospital, Johnson City, New York, and received her R.N. degree in 1945. Betty continued her education to become a Nursing Arts instructor. While getting her education, Betty was active in the Free Methodist Church in Endicott, New York.
While Betty always felt a pull toward Christian service, a definite call to South America came in 1947. She sought an assignment with the General Missionary Board and was appointed to Paraguay in October 1949. She reached the field in April 1950. In Asuncion Betty was in charge of the Free Methodist orphanage and a clinic. Although the orphanage closed a few years later, the clinic continued to be a very valuable part of the mission. In addition to her medical work, Betty helped with evangelism ministries. In 1963 she moved to Encarnacion to work among the women and youth of the Japanese communities.
After ministry in Paraguay for 16 years, Betty was asked to transfer to the Dominican Republic in 1966. Over the course of the next 17 years, Betty served as nurse, teacher, bookstore manager, youth worker and evangelist. She taught classes in the school of nursing at the university and assisted a national doctor in a small clinic in Santiago.
Betty was involved in the summer seminary program and taught Bible classes at the Evangelical Institute. As part of a service training program for lay workers, she often traveled weekends to hold institutes. She was also deeply committed to women’s and children’s work. Two bookstores in the city of Santiago were her responsibility for several years.
Betty retired in August 1984 after 35 years in Latin America. She was married in 1985 to Reverend C. Howard Canon, a retired minister from the Pittsburgh Conference. They made their home in Gerry, New York. Reverend Cannon passed away in May 2007.
Elizabeth’s Colleagues Write
Dr. Doane Bonney remembers serving with Betty in the Dominican Republic, “Betty was an endless and boundless bundle of energy. She was a fireball. She had a dozen projects balancing on her plate daily. She was on the road constantly to keep all her projects going. Betty was a hard, hard worker.
“Betty was heavily involved in clinics and was pivotal in getting several clinics started in the country. She also started Christian bookstores that were productive ministries. One bookstore was in the Santiago Free Methodist Church. I remember one little boy who was poor as a church mouse and couldn’t buy any books. Betty let him sit on the floor and read the books. He later became a pastor.”
“Betty was a people person,” recalls Ruth Bonney, “She entertained people in and out of her home regularly. She was an open and caring kind of person who always had a smile.”