Park, Nora Kate Lambuth

Park, Nora Kate Lambuth

Missionary to China for forty-eight years

Photo courtesy of General Commission on Archives and History

Nora Lambuth, daughter of Rev. J. W. Lambuth and Mary McClellan Lambuth, was born in 1863 while her parents, who were missionaries in Shanghai, China, with the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, were home on furlough in Mississippi. She was born in a log cabin on her grandfather J.R. Lambuth’s property because the Civil War had begun and staying in the plantation house was not safe. During her first year of life, her family made a harrowing journey out of the southern United States through enemy lines up to New York harbor—so they could sail back to China.

For her first 11 years, Nora grew up in Shanghai learning Chinese and English and attending school with her mother’s Chinese students, her friends and sisters. In 1874, her mother sailed with her back to the United States and traveled to Nashville, Tennessee. There Nora was turned over to the care of Dr. D. C. Kelly’s family so that she could finish her secondary education. She remained in Nashville until, at the age of 17, she graduated from Ward Seminary. She returned to Shanghai to join her family, where she taught British and American expatriate children.

In 1882 the MECS sent a young doctor to China named William Hector Park. He stayed with the Lambuth family while he and Nora’s brother, Dr. Walter R. Lambuth, worked on a plan to open a new medical mission in Soochow, China. In 1886, William and Nora were married in a little church in Kobe, Japan, where her parents had since been appointed. Nora and William left Kobe for Soochow, where William and Walter founded the Soochow Hospital. The Parks lived and worked in Soochow for the next 40 years.

In addition to hosting Chinese, American, and international visitors, Nora taught English to Dr. Park’s Chinese medical students and was active in the Woman’s Missionary Society. She led Bible study and visited both the Soochow Hospital and the Mary Black Hospital and organized the first anti-footbinding meeting for Chinese women in Soochow. She and William had one child, Margarita Mary Park.

In the spring of 1927, many missionaries were evacuated from China and the Parks took up residence in Florida. But later that year, Dr. Park passed away. His body was cremated so that Nora could return his remains to Soochow for burial, which she did at the age of 65 in 1928, once the political situation had calmed down. She lived in Soochow with her daughter Mary and son-in-law, Dr. D. L. Sherertz, who carried on the work of Dr. Park at Soochow Hospital. Nora lived in Soochow for another 21 years until her death in 1949 at the age of 86.

By Christie R. House, editor of New World Outlook magazine.


“Nora Lambuth Park, Missionary to China for 48 Years,” by Margarita Park Sherertz, World Outlook, March 1933.