|On June 14, 1910, something wonderful happened. Annie Beatrice was born in Coosa County, Alabama, the third of nine children to John S. Sanders and Carrie Jane Carter. Mother grew up near Arcadia, Louisiana where she seemed destined to meet and marry Benjamin Paul Durbin, a recent veteran, who lived in Bryceland. Daddy was smitten with her the first time he saw her, asking, “Where have you been all my life? After a short courtship and marriage, they lived in Bryceland where their first child Sybil was born.
Feeling called to preach, Daddy moved the family to Tehuacana, Texas where he studied for the ministry and Mother studied piano. A treasured heirloom is the small gold, harp-shaped pin awarded her for piano excellence.
Mother was a beloved pastor’s wife who worked alongside Daddy wherever he pastored. While living in Athens where Paul Guy was born, Daddy pastored two half-time churches and preached on fifth Sundays at another. Attending five services on some Sundays exemplifies her devotion. Not only was Mother active in the Woman’s Society of Christian Service and Sunday School, she also served in the community as volunteer librarian, hospital pink lady, and Bible Memory Club sponsor. A multi-talented woman, she was a super seamstress, an award-winning saleswoman of health and beauty products, and a formidable domino player. A gracious hostess and great cook, she served many revival preachers and prepared a plenteous fried oyster dinner whenever the district superintendent visited, a treat her children hold in remembrance. Her fresh peach cobbler was unmatched.
Self-giving, compassionate, and nurturing, Mother was proud of her children's accomplishments. Both children graduated from Centenary College, received doctorates, served in the ministry, and authored several books. Adored by her grandchildren, she was affectionately called Mother Ann, a tradition that she started. The toy closet in the hall remained intact until the house was vacated. Its memory is immortalized in the minds of those who enjoyed its contents. Mother, a slim, dark-haired (in her younger years), brown-eyed beauty, took pride in her appearance. As Rev. Jimmie Pyles said at her funeral, “She was a sharp dresser and didn’t have to shop at Neiman Marcus to be so."
A widow for ten years, Mother married Robert Gordon Pullig, a fellow church member in Minden's First United Methodist Church. They were married for ten years when Mother experienced a debilitating stroke. For two years while Mother was in the health center, Gordon sat from morning until evening beside her until his own health necessitated his becoming her roommate. When Mother became able to move about in a wheelchair, she delighted in socializing with the residents, happily introducing her children when they visited. Her dementia was at times a pleasantry. Always the hostess, she thought she was the greeter in the parlor. When relatives visited her room although she was bedfast, she would ask, "Can I make you some coffee?"
A strong woman of faith, grace, and courage, her legacy lives on in the lives of those she left behind: her faithful husband; her children, Paul Guy (Bobbie) Durbin, Sybil (Fred) Waldrop, Sandra (Gary) Smith; twenty-two grandchildren, sixteen great grandchildren, a great, great grandchild; two sisters, and a host of relatives and friends. When anyone in the family exhibits strength and courage, it is said, "He has a lot of Mother Ann in him."
C. Sybil Waldrop
|Source: Louisiana Conference Journal, 2006|