Willa Ruth Garlow, 89, died early morning Monday, Feb. 19, the Baptist Messenger has learned. An author, spokesperson and longtime leader in children’s ministry with the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma (BGCO), Garlow suffered a stroke, according to reports while leaving an event at Oklahoma City, Capitol Hill, her home church, on Friday, Feb. 16.

Garlow was treated at OU Medical Center, including an emergency procedure to address a blood clot, and remained at OU Medical Center through the weekend. A family member said Garlow developed complications swallowing, and her condition caused her to suffer pneumonia.

Garlow is the wife of the late Lyle Garlow, retired BGCO senior associate executive director. Together they served multiple ministries in Oklahoma Baptist life. She is survived by two children, five grandchildren, and 11 great-grandchildren. 

“Willa Ruth Garlow was an amazing lady,” BGCO Executive Director-Treasurer Anthony Jordan said. An incredible preschool conference leader and inspirational speaker, she lighted up every room she entered.  She had a passion for life and zeal for serving her Lord. A few minutes in her presence and you would walk away feeling 10 feet tall.  She and Lyle were two treasures of Oklahoma Baptists.  They gave their lives in service to our Lord and Oklahoma Baptists.”


Garlow’s funeral is scheduled for 1 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 22, at Oklahoma City, Capitol Hill, 304 S.W. 134th Street.