|Mildred Walton was born October 24, 1904, in Leighton, Alabama. Her family moved to Helena, Arkansas, where her father was a physician, and where she grew up with her twin sister, Mabel, and their brother, Murphey. She attended the University of Arkansas and taught school for several years.
She and Aubrey G. Walton were married on September 17, 1930. They lived in several locations in Arkansas, where he was a Methodist pastor. After serving as pastor of First Church, Little Rock, for sixteen years, he was elected to the episcopacy in 1960 and appointed to the Louisiana Area. They made their home in New Orleans for the next twelve years. Upon retiring in 1972, they returned to Little Rock. Bishop Walton died in 1978.
Mildred died in Little Rock on December 23, 1999. She is survived by a son, James Walton, of Evanston, Illinois; a daughter, Mildred Ziegler, of Springdale; six grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. A memorial service was held December 30 at First United Methodist Church, Little Rock.
A strong, sensitive, and imaginative woman, nothing in life was ordinary or prosaic to Mildred. Whatever she touched in her spicy, generous, and courageous way turned to high adventure!
Mildred was a marvelous writer and storyteller. Her stories of the outhouse at one of their parsonages, or of the time during the Depression when at a potluck dinner all the families brought a jello salad, or the intimate and revealing story of her operation are classics in the memory of Louisiana Methodism.
I cannot resist telling a short version of one of her stories, using, of course, her own words: “Before Aubrey entered the ministry he was a cotton buyer. Part of his job was to ship cotton to mills in the northeast on the Missouri Pacific railroad. After seminary our first appointment was to Calico Rock in north Arkansas. Since neither of us knew where it was or how to get there, Aubrey went to see his friend, an agent who worked for the railroad. We discovered it was difficult to get there, involving two nights. However, there was a fast Missouri Pacific train that went through Calico Rock but had never stopped there. Because of their friendship, the agent said he would make arrangements to make an exception, and Aubrey wired the chairman of the board that we would arrive at 11:36 Wednesday morning on that fast train. When the train stopped at Calico Rock almost everyone in town was at the station. Mountain people do not ask questions. After several months, however, one of our friends felt close enough to ask Aubrey to say, ‘Preacher, something has been bothering us all these months. I know I shouldn’t ask you a personal question, but how in the hell did you get that train to stop!”
I think Mildred of as a “woman for all seasons.” She had a special kind of bouncy inner joy that set her apart as a special kind of person. She was a loving and thoughtful person with her husband and family, a warm and delightful friend, one, whose whole life was gladly given in service to others, possessing a deep and abiding faith and understanding of life’s meaning and values, and, above all, a great love of life!
Having this great love of life, she gave life to others. For it is not only true of Jesus—that sentence in the Bible that says, “Because he lives, we shall live also,” It is true of every follower of Jesus—that simply being alive to life, in all its joys and sorrows, we bring life to others.
This was characteristic of her, for she knew the meaning of love, to give oneself to love that call forth love, love that produces love--not merely for oneself –but love of life. Such love has within itself the power of life over death!
Three days before she died she was folding clothes, washing dishes, reading and reciting poetry to her great-grandchildren—at 95 years young!
|Source: Journal Louisiana Conference, p. 257 By Ben Oliphint|