Dr. Dellanna (West) O’Brien

Baptist Women’s Missionary Union, 1953

Dr. Dellanna O’Brien, an influential leader in Southern Baptist life, served as Executive Director/Treasurer of the Baptist Woman’s Missionary Union from 1989 until her retirement in 1999. In this position, she was responsible for leading approximately 1.2 million women, girls, and preschoolers in missions education, missions support, missions action and personal witnessing. Prior to holding that position, Dr. O’Brien was the President of International Family and Children’s Educational Services in Richmond, Virginia.

Dellanna O’Brien was born July 23, 1933, in Wichita Falls, Texas. She received the Bachelor of Science Degree from Hardin-Simmons University in 1953 and went on to earn the Master of Education Degree from Texas Christian University in 1972, and the Doctor of Education Degree form Virginia Tech State University in 1983.

Dellanna O’Brien was named Distinguished Alumna of Hardin-Simmons University in 1990 and was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Humanities degree from the school in 1997. Dr. O’Brien was also awarded an Honorary Doctor of Social Service degree from the University of Richmond, and the Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Judson College, Alabama.

As a teenager in Goldsmith, Texas, Dr. O’Brien felt a “keen urge to follow God’s leadership.” This calling was heeded and for eight years she, and her husband Bill, served as Baptist missionaries assigned to Indonesia. While serving, she taught music and English and aided in planting new churches. She also taught piano and accompanied the choir of the Baptist Theological Seminary of Indonesia, where her husband was music professor. In 1971, the O’Briens resigned their service with the Foreign Mission Board and returned to the United States where they continued serving the Lord.

Dellanna O’Brien has been a committed and faithful supporter of Hardin-Simmons University where she has served on the Board of Development. Dr. O’Brien has been a member of numerous boards and committees of the Baptist World Alliance, the A.D. 2000 Movement and Beyond, as well as the North American Baptist Fellowship. She has been described as an example of what it means to be a woman seeking God’s heart and who follows God’s voice.