|Mary was the second of three daughters born to Mr. And Mrs. John S. Pearce in New Orleans. The Pearces were strongly supportive members of Parker Memorial United Methodist Church. It was in the Primary Department of Parker Memorial that Mary first met Benjamin Aby Petty who in time became her husband for 59 years.
Before her marriage to Ben on September 1, 1942, she graduated from Newcomb College with a major in Latin and Greek and had become a pianist and organist. In the year before their marriage she and Ben conducted the services of a junior church at Parker Memorial. Its choir sang at their wedding. Mary continued to support Ben effectively in many ways during his seminary years at Emory University when he was pastor of rural churches in the North Georgia Conference and later in the New England Conference during his graduate work in philosophy at Boston University.
Mary became the loving mother of their two children, Benjamin Pearce and Ann Elizabeth, who subsequently blessed her and Ben with six grandchildren and one great-grandson. Five years were spent in New Orleans after Ben became the Associate Pastor of Rayne Memorial—four under B. C. Taylor and one under Adrian Serex. Mary as always, was the active minister’s wife. Coming to Dallas in 1953 where Ben was appointed to teach at S.M.U., she immediately was active with him in University Park United Methodist Church. In particular, she pioneered hand bells in that congregation, having as many as five different choirs organized at one time. Their daughter, Ann, became choir director of a small Methodist Church in East Dallas, and Mary became its organist. So for eleven years she and Ben would teach their Sunday School classes at University Park UMC and then would hasten in John Wesley fashion to Agape Memorial UMC where Mary played the organ for the eleven o’clock service, and Ben sang in the choir. Mary’s contribution to both congregations was attested to by the 175 persons from both churches who attended her memorial service on February 20, 2001, at University Park UMC, during which, fittingly, hand bells were played.
Mary Pearce Petty was a loving wife, mother and grandmother who cared deeply for her family. She was a dedicated, conscientious, and organized Christian who used her talents effectively in self-effacing ways. She conveyed clearly the fruit of Christianity in what she taught and how she lived.
|Source: Journal Louisiana Conference 2001, p. 263 By Benjamin Aby Petty|