Kathleen Mallory, was a native of Dallas County, and called First Baptist, Selma, her church home. Born in 1879, she was a teacher by trade and valued learning second only to worship and love. Between 1907 and 1912, she served in the Selma city, Alabama state, and national Women’s Missionary Union, becoming Executive Secretary until 1948.
Her 36 year tenure made her the longest serving executive the WMU has ever had. She became a Champion of the WMU Training School and editor for the magazine Royal Service, a missions publication which is now one of the largest circulated publications for women in the United States. Her forward thinking regarding women’s involvement, interracial work, and her financial insight helped grow WMU membership from 200,000 to 806,000 despite the depression. Miss Mallory paved the way for women on the platform of the Southern Baptist Convention and was the first woman ever to speak there. Her commitment helped make the SBC into an efficient organization that in turn established the Cooperative Program.
In her honor are a hospital in China, a building in Japan, a Goodwill center in Baltimore and various halls throughout Alabama. Scholarships and Dormitories at many Baptist colleges and seminaries recall her memory, and the Alabama Baptist Convention has a yearly state missions offering in her name. First Baptist Church, Selma, AL. keeps a parlor in her name, and is honored to have been gifted with her Bible and chair by the Mallory family. She died in 1954 and is buried in Live Oak Cemetery of Selma. Though she never married, she was then and remains “The Sweetheart of Southern Baptists”.