Wednesday, November 23, 2011


Celebrating The Life Of Mary Belle Marrs: 1928-2011

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A Celebration of the Home-going of Mary Belle Marrs

Parking was at a premium on the grounds outside, and the house was packed inside, to standing-room-only status, at 112-year-old Tinney Chapel United Methodist Church on this day-before-Thanksgiving, November 23, 2011.

All had come to say bon voyage to one of their own, blood kin and church family of their favorite young-at-heart, perennially positive, adventure-loving, hard-working, God-in-her-life former beauty operator with a great sense of humor, always armed with a kind word and a wide-angle smile for everyone in her path and in her heart:

Mary Belle Marrs.

“You can bet that she is skipping along the Streets of Glory today, and that she is no doubt praying for some of you in this congregation,” declared Rev. Duncan Graham, officiating master at this memorial service, and for seven years the pastor of today’s honoree, a long-time member of Tinney Chapel, where Rev. Graham began the service by reading about the art of rejoicing in the Lord from the New Testament book of Philippians, starting at chapter 1, verse 19, quickly segueing into other passages, beginning with 1 Corinthians 15:40 and Hebrews 11:13 (“we shall be raised and changed” versus “death where is thy sting?”).

That Mary Marrs was a great lady perhaps goes without saying to most of those here, observed Rev. Graham: “She lived a great life, and we all look forward to walking with Mary on those Streets of Glory.

“And, as we cherish the memory of this very wonderful lady today, I can not even think of her as other than one of the Three Sisters (Frankie, Imogene & Mary), who enjoyed such a close bond with each other. But, this is Mary’s Day, and our thoughts and words will concentrate on her for the most part.”

Rev. Graham noted that it was exactly nine years ago that he performed this same duty, a funeral/memorial service for Mary’s husband, Hoyt Marrs, who was also a member of Tinney Chapel at a time when Rev. Graham was the church’s pastor: “Meanwhile, all of us may rest in the calm assurance that Mary today is eternally happy.”

At one point, Rev. Graham told several stories about Mary that he learned from her family: Sandra, Rick and Sherri, including her insistence on climbing and descending an intimidating slide when Mary was 75 years of age at Fort Worth’s Trail Dust Steak House. And, then, there was the time Mary managed to get husband Hoyt’s bird dog intoxicated on an overdose of holiday eggnog. And, lest we forget: The years that Mary functioned as an aggressive keeper of bees and harvester of their honey, which Rev. Graham remembered fondly, especially since his first taste was free, but then he was hooked and continued as a loyal paying customer until Mary shut down the hives upon the departure of her profitable bees.

“She had a real sense of adventure,” emphasized the pastor: “Mary thought she could do about anything, and then—before you realized it—she had actually done it. She was an industrious worker in her yard and taught her children the value of honest, hard work by setting an example for them.

“A woman of great love was another of her chief characteristics,” added Rev. Graham: “As her pastor, I always anticipated her hugs and smiles of welcome. She was, in many respects, a preacher’s dream, faithful in all ways, a lovely lady who will be missed by all of us. But, she has already enriched our lives, and will continue to do so via our memories.

“Now she is free of sickness, inabilities and paralysis, all by the Resurrection Power of Jesus the Christ,” said Rev. Graham, who reminded the congregation that the Apostle Paul mentioned over 500 people who had personally witnessed the Resurrection of the Savior.

The pastor concluded with a reference to the Faith described and honored in the 11th Chapter of Hebrews: “Mary has gone Home to receive her Glorified Body.”

Congregational hymns this day included Near To The Heart Of God, When We All Get To Heaven and I'll Fly Away.

The following is a Tinney Talk Column from the Tinney Chapel print newsletter of June 1999:


Observations by Joe Dan Boyd

‘May your fountain be blessed, and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth.’
---Proverbs 5:18

This Old Testament INJUNCTION is, for the most part, standard operating procedure for ORDINARY folks of the World War II era. These are the people LABELED, in Tom Brokaw’s book, as our country’s GREATEST GENERATION. Two of that generation’s greatest are HOYT & MARY MARRS, who met in the Dallas-Fort Worth METROPLEX during 1946, when PEACE was BREAKING OUT all over the WORLD.

MARY and sister IMOGENE left WINNSBORO in 1945 to attend Neilsen Beauty School. HOYT, fresh from OKLAHOMA and INFANTRY service in the EUROPEAN Theater, was visiting his sister Dorothy, and keeping an EYE OUT for promising JOB opportunities in the expanding post-war CIVILIAN theater.

That SEARCH was INTERRUPTED temporarily when HOYT got an EYEFUL of MARY, a diminutive, 121-lb. BEAUTY with brown eyes and dark hair. ‘She was the PRETTIEST thing I had ever seen,’ he later told their DAUGHTER Sherri. MARY liked HOYT, too, despite a HEIGHT difference of almost 10 inches: He was 5 foot-eleven; she, LESS than 5 foot-two.

But she enjoyed LOOKING UP to him, and they ENJOYED each other’s COMPANY. It wasn’t long until their FIRST DATE: ‘HAMBURGERS at the PIG STAND,’ recalls HOYT. Their COURTSHIP included nearly two years of TOGETHERNESS at picture shows, public parks and the FRONT PORCHES of a NOT-YET-AIR-CONDITIONED Texas SUMMERTIME.

‘I think what really ATTRACTED us to EACH OTHER was a COMMON BOND from the way we were RAISED in the COUNTRY during the GREAT DEPRESSION--which actually was NOT so great,’ recalls MARY. ‘And, there was NO formal PROPOSAL. We just EXPECTED to get MARRIED,’ she recalls. ‘One day, May 14, 1949, we found a JUSTICE OF THE PEACE in Rockwall, and TIED THE KNOT at 8:15 in the EVENING.’

Their HONEYMOON was DINNER at a nice RESTAURANT before HOYT carried MARY across the THRESHOLD of a TINY east Dallas APARTMENT: ‘ONE ROOM, plus a little KITCHEN fashioned from what had once been a CLOSET and a bathroom,’ says MARY.

WHY has the MARRIAGE, 50 years later, GONE GOLD? ‘LOVE,’ says MARY, with disarming SIMPLICITY: ‘He TOLERATES the things I DO.’ Adds HOYT: ‘It’s the COMPROMISE of everyday GIVE AND TAKE; you have to WORK at it.’ MARY smiles and delivers the clincher: ‘You HAVE to have GOD in your LIFE.’

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