MRS. WILLIAM L. DUREN
August 26, 1876-October 26, 1962
On August 26, 1876 there came to the home of James P. Bennett and his wife, Sarah Carruth, a lovely little girl. She grew up amidst the beautiful rolling hills of Franklin County, Mississippi, attending the public schools and going with her parents to the Methodist Church on Sunday. She joined the Ebenezer Methodist Episcopal Church, South, while still a young girl and gave more than three-quarters of a century of service to the church she loved. After finishing high school she attended Whitworth College, Brookhaven, Mississippi from which institution she was graduated in the class of 1901.
Mary Ethel Bennett taught school for a short while at Whitworth and finished up her teaching career in the public schools of Franklin County, Mississippi. She was teaching at Bogue Chitto when she decided to leave the public schools for a job which she did supremely well for more than a half century—presiding over a Methodist parsonage. She married Dr. William L. Duren on July 1, 1903, and for more than fifty-nine yeas did more than her share in making of him one of the greatest religious leaders of the South. At Itta Bena, Jonestown, Macon, Clarksdale, Tupelo and Columbus, all in Miss.; Rayne Memorial, New Orleans; St. Mark, Atlanta, Ga.; Griffin, Ga.; Monroe, La.; and finally for twelve years as editor of The New Orleans Christian Advocate where, because of the shortage of funds, she did much herself to assist her husband editor. The last twenty years of her life she assisted her husband in adjusting to the life of a retired preacher.
Mrs. Duren was a gracious woman. One always felt at ease in her presence. Her mind was actively interested in the world affairs of her day and she was deeply concerned about trends which she felt were not in keeping with the mind of Christ. It was my privilege to visit the home quite often during the last years of her life. I never heard her complain even though many times I knew she suffered greatly. She knew what she believed and had such a firm grip upon that spiritual power which made it possible for her to bear graciously whatever life brought her. She loved and appreciated the great music of the Church and knew many of its hymns from singing them so often. Two of the great hymns were a comfort to her in her last illness, “Amazing Grace” and “All Is Well with My Soul”. As her husband has said “She pleaded pathetically that she might be carried back home, not just to conclude her life there, but to preside and minister as she had done for nearly sixty years. But God had other plans for her veteran spirit. As the sun dipped low on the last day of her life, the summons came to join the immortals in that house not made with hands, there to sing with perfected voice and in immortal reality the faith that she loved to sing on earth.
Mrs. Duren died on October 26, 1962 and her funeral was conducted two days later in the Rayne Memorial Church by Bishop Aubrey G. Walton, assisted by Rev. Carl Lueg, Rev. B. A. Galloway, and Rev. Ebb Munden, III. She is survived by her husband, Dr. William L. Duren, and two sons, Dr. William L. Duren, Jr. of Charlottsville, Va., James B. Duren of Hattiesburg, Miss., and one daughter, Miss Mary E. Duren of Los Angeles, California, and a great host of friends from all parts of the South.
Source: Journal Louisiana Conference, 1963; p. 273 By J. Henry Bowdon, Sr.
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