Mary Elizabeth Love
June 16, 1936 – August 10, 2021
On June 16, 1936, Mary Elizabeth Leech Love was born to Reverend Marvin Burton Leech and Helen Elizabeth Hatton Leech. She was escorted by thousands of angels into heaven on Tuesday, August 10, 2021, at the age of 85.
She was born in Ft. Worth, TX, and was the big sister to 5 brothers. The daughter of a pastor, her family lived in OK, AZ, Mexico, and Abilene, Texas, in her younger years. She was actively involved in Abilene High School and later, Amarillo High. Mary married the love of her life, Charles P. Love, on June 3, 1954, two weeks after her high school graduation. After 2 years of college, Mary gave birth to their first child, and from that point forward, she devoted her life to raising their 5 children and serving beside her husband in ministry. Charles pastored a small church in Gatesville while attending seminary in Ft. Worth. Mary was the pianist and taught children’s classes. From there they moved to Nebraska where Charles was the pastor of a small church and Mary was active in all facets of ministry. In 1964 Charles and Mary were appointed as Southern Baptist Missionaries to British Guiana (now Guyana), South America. They served in that country for 28 years. During those years Mary was busy raising their 5 children, producing live radio programs for youth, writing books and articles for various Christian publications, hosting and coordinating volunteer mission teams, leading Sunday School classes and choirs, helping to start new churches, planning summer camp activities, and mentoring an immeasurable number of young ladies and couples.
After retiring as missionaries, Charles and Mary moved to Abilene and bought their first home. However, they soon left on a volunteer mission project for 18 months in St. Lucia, West Indies. There Mary connected with several young Chinese women in their neighborhood who were working in a garment factory. She and Charles started having weekly services in their home to share the gospel with these women. Upon completion of their St. Lucia project, they soon left for 3 years in China to teach English as a Second Language at a university. Here they built many relationships with their students and ‘educated’ them about Christianity as well. Mary’s passion for people was fueled by her passion to help others know of her Savior whom she loved more than anything.
After returning from China, Mary became very active in First Baptist Church’s City Lights (homeless ministry), Big A Club for children, Senior choir, PrayerWorks, and a mentoring program for young women.
Mary loved her family and extended family. Throughout the years she connected with each of them regularly through letters, emails, and by visiting in person as much as possible. Extended family still includes countless worldwide “adopted” children who to this day consider her the most inspiring and powerful influence in their lives.
She loved flowers and gardening. She was a talented artist of oil and water paintings. She was committed to healthy cooking and eating. Physical fitness was a priority; especially jogging and walking. She was an avid reader, especially of her Bible. She journaled, sent cards, and wrote letters. Mary loved to walk beaches, travel, and thoughtfully shop/gift people for any occasion. She turned everything imaginable into special celebrations! She had an ornery streak and fun spirit that showed in her humor and in competitive playing of “42” and Chicken Foot, or Monopoly with her grandchildren. We’ll all miss her world-class ”rub downs” (back massages)! Dementia set in too early, and Alzheimers robbed Mary of her memories and skills. Through it all, she remained complimentary and so loving, gentle, and content. She often expressed how blessed she was and told us how much she loved us. She expressed pleasure and gratitude to the end. She had the touch of an angel with strangers, who often felt a kindred spirit; even servers in restaurants. No one crossed her path without hearing about Jesus. The world was her mission field. She will be greatly missed, but is now in the presence of the One she loved the most.
She is preceded in death by her parents, her brother Owen Leech, and her oldest grandchild Michelle Edwards.
She is survived by Charles, her beloved husband and soulmate of 67 years. She is also survived by her brothers Marvin Leech (Linda), Owen’s widow Dorothy Leech, Tim Leech (June), Carey Leech (Rhonda), and Jim Leech (Rosie). Left to carry on her legacy are her children Debi S. Mulkey (Richard), Kathy Edwards Crowder (Mark), Charles David Love (Ginger), John K. Love (Marjorie), and Donna Elizabeth Tiemeyer (Jerry). Also, 17 grandchildren: Darrin Love, Melissa Mulkey McCormack (Daniel), Christy Edwards Bunn (Jacob), Zachary Love, Christopher Love (Megan), Brandon Crowder, Caleb Tiemeyer (Laura), Ben Tiemeyer (Catherine), Stephen Crowder, Noah Tiemeyer, Sarah Crowder Sullivan (Sam), Samuel Love, Jubilee Love, Seth Tiemeyer, Joel Love, and Simeon Love. She is also survived by her 4 great grandchildren: August Bunn, Oliver Bunn, Camilla Bunn, and Declan McCormack, as well as many loving cousins, nieces and nephews.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to First Baptist Church, City Lights Program, 1333 North 3rd, Abilene, TX, 79601, or Michelle Edwards Memorial Scholarship Fund, Sam Houston State University, Dept. of University Advancement, P. O. Box 2537, Huntsville, TX, 77341-2357.
Elliott-Hamil Funeral Home in Abilene is handling the services: 5701 US Highway 277 South. Open visitation is Tuesday August 17, 2021, 1:00-5:00 PM (no family present) and 6:00-8:00 PM visitation with family.
Celebration of Mary’s life is 1:00 PM, Wednesday, August 18, 2021, at First Baptist Church Abilene, 1333 North 3rd, Abilene, TX, 79601. To leave condolences and watch live stream, please visit, www.elliott-hamil.com