Oklahoma Baptist University

In Memory: Former First Lady Ellen Tanner

Ellen Yates Tanner, 1975.

Ellen Yates Tanner, OBU’s First Lady from 1971-76, died July 4, 2013, in Temple, Texas. She was 82.

Mrs. Tanner was born Jan. 4, 1931, in Louisville, Ky., the daughter of Dr. Kyle Monroe Yates Sr. and Margaret (Sharp) Yates. After graduating from high school in Houston, Texas, she attended Baylor University and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in 1952.

She married her husband, Dr. William G. Tanner Sr., on Dec. 21, 1951, in Houston. After teaching first grade in the early years of her marriage, she devoted her time to her family and to supporting Bill as a pastor’s wife in Houston and Cleburne, Texas, and Gulfport, Miss.

She moved into the role of a college First Lady when Bill became president of Mary Hardin-Baylor College in 1968 and continued serving in that role at OBU through 1976. When Bill became executive director of the Home Mission Board (now the North American Mission Board) of the Southern Baptist Convention and, later, of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma, she took on leadership roles with ministers’ wives and the WMU. She was a member of the Executive Committee for the Southern Baptist Convention and chaired the Prayer Vigil for Ministers’ Wives for the Southern Baptist Convention.

In 2004, the couple moved back to Central Texas, where they became active members of the First Baptist Church of Belton. She directed the Prayer Ministry until the time of her death.

She is preceded in death by her parents; her husband; one brother, Dr. Kyle Monroe Yates Jr.; one son, Mark Kyle Tanner; and one grandson, Geoffrey Price Tanner.

She is survived by two sons, Dr. William Tanner Jr. and wife, Dr. Paula Tanner, of Belton, and Keith Tanner and wife, Ginger, of Frisco; one daughter, Kimberley Tanner Canova and husband, Terry, of Mobile, Ala.; one sister, Jean Wooddy; 10 grandchildren: Mandi Foster, Kayde Higgins, Jason Tanner, Jessica Tanner, Carl Tanner, Scarlett Salter, Kaitlyn Tanner, Beau Tanner, Sophie Salter and Hayden Salter; and three great-grandchildren: Reed, Cale and Zoe Higgins.

A memorial service will be conducted at 2 p.m., Monday, July 8, 2013, at First Baptist Church in Belton under the direction of Dossman Funeral Home, with Andy Davis officiating. A private burial will take place in Waco, Texas, prior to the service.

In lieu of flowers, the family request donations be made to the Vasicek Cancer Treatment Center at Scott and White.

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