|Mildred Fryar Martin died at her home in Dallas on October 28, 2003, at the age of 104. She was preceded in death by her husband, Bishop Paul E. Martin. A memorial service was held in Perkins Chapel of Southern Methodist University on November 14, 2003. Mildred was born in Blossom, Texas, to John Madison and Ara Elisabeth Fryar.
Her close childhood friendship with Paul Martin developed into a deeper affection and romance which led to their marriage on June 29, 1920 in their home town of Blossom. Dr. Vernon, in the biography of Bishop Martin, writes, “Mildred conceived her role as wife of Paul Martin (whether ‘Mr. Martin,’ ‘Dr. Martin,’ or ‘Bishop Martin’) to be that of a helpmate, an assistant in many ways, but one who preferred to stay in the background — lending care and support, love and encouragement, and sometimes advice.”
She was his partner in his student pastorates as he completed his seminary studies at S.M.U., in his pastorates in the North Texas Conference, in his Episcopal service in Arkansas, Louisiana, and Texas for 24 years, and in his years of retirement as Resident Bishop at Perkins School of Theology.
The Perkins Perspective said in writing of the death of Mildred, “She and her husband were a partnership that inspired and encouraged the Perkins and Bridwell families of Wichita Falls to invest in theological education for The United Methodist Church, particularly Perkins.” The Perkins and Bridwell families were members of the last church they served before her husband was elected to the episcopacy.
Those of us who were members of the Louisiana Conference when they served as our spiritual leaders recall Mildred as an ideal minister’s wife who was at her husband’s side at our annual conferences and also when he came to our local churches for special occasions. Louisiana Methodism was blessed with her presence as the spouse of our bishop for sixteen years (1944-1960).
James J. Caraway
|Source: Journal Louisiana Conference, 2004|