The family of Mary Frances McCay Pendergrass Terrell bids farewell to our Mom, Sister, Grandmother and Aunt. We celebrate a wonderful and steadfast Christian life. Mary Frances was born on January 22, 1930, on a cold winter day on the family farm in Green Hill, near Monticello, Arkansas. She was quick to tell childhood stories about breaking the ice on the water bucket to gather water from the well, her older brothers chasing and squirting each other with buttermilk-filled puppies, and the ever-present fear of the barnyard rooster that guarded the outhouse. Or sadly recalling the death of her baby sister, Betty. Mary Frances’ parents, Bob and Mae McCay, left the farm and moved the family first to Monticello, and then to Crossett. Other than following her Army husband, Curtis, the first several years of their marriage to various Army bases, Mary Frances lived in Crossett the majority of her life.
Mary Frances and her brother, George McCay, are the last two of the original charter members of the Presbyterian Church of Crossett, founded in 1949, when she was only 19, along with her parents and brothers. She has been a lifelong faithful servant to this same Church serving as elder, choir member, secretary, commissioner, and Sunday school teacher. In the early 1980’s, Mary Frances and Curtis began what is now the Greater Crossett Area Food Pantry, still located within the Presbyterian Church.
Mary Frances and Curtis had four children whom she would rear for twelve years on her own while he was stationed around the world. She lived her values every day and taught her children to think for themselves, question everything and most importantly, be kind and generous to others. Until her recent brief illness, she continued to volunteer at the food bank or the church every chance she had making sandwiches, or handing out water and bread to those in need.
Mary Frances’ first job in Crossett was as a soda jerk at Spikes Drug Store. But marriage and graduation then took her away into the Army life. In 1957, she would decide that military bases were not ‘home’ and permanently moved her children to Crossett where she threw herself into the workforce to provide for the family. First, she was a reporter, junior editor and weekly columnist at the News Observer. Mary Frances was often the first one on a scene and became quite adept at photography as well. After the paper, she began a long career at The First National Bank of Crossett, fondly known as Miss Mary, retiring in 1996.
A keen editor, Mary Frances protected the English language until her last days instilling that same trait in all four of her children. She was an avid reader and a voracious crossword puzzle expert. She shared her wry wit with everyone and loved finding puns and jokes in her everyday life. She loved the woods, the mountains, sweet iced tea, watching children play, her family and a roaring fire. Mary Frances pursued her love of travel by visiting a daughter in Japan, as well as touring the Bahamas, Europe, Alaska and New England.
Mary Frances lost her first husband of 44 years to cancer in 1990. Almost ten years later, a new love found her when she met Doyle Terrell and married in 1999 - the two were inseparable until his death in 2008. She was blessed by being loved and surrounded by three families – the McCays, the Pendergrasses and the Terrells.
While Mary Frances has moved on to be with the God who walked with her through life, we are left to celebrate an extraordinary woman and to always remember her beautiful smile. Those who await her are: her parents, Robert F. (Bob) and Ethel Mae Walton McCay; her first husband, Curtis A. Pendergrass (1990) and Doyle Terrell, her second husband (2008); her sister, Betty, and her brothers Bobby, Paul and Gene (Samuel) McCay. She leaves behind two brothers; David McCay (Rhonda) of Boulder, Colorado, and George McCay of Crossett; her children: Rick Pendergrass of North Little Rock, Beti Gunter (Mike Smith) of North Little Rock, Sharleen Bakeman (Mark) of Olympia, Washington and Susan Pendergrass of Crossett; four grandchildren: Josh Pendergrass of Grand Junction, Colorado, Kimzey Gunter of Mancos, Colorado, Gordon Pendergrass (Megan) of Reno, Nevada, and Delia Samblanet (Tom) of Westborough, Massachussetts; and seven great-grandchildren. Her Terrell family includes a stepson Clark Terrell (Martha) of Crossett, six grandchildren: Scott Sweet of Springdale, Arkansas; Matthew Sweet, Michael Terrell and Christin Hankins (Edwin IV), all of Little Rock, Arkansas; Lisa Reed (Justin) of Crossett, Arkansas and Mark Terrell of Hot Springs, Arkansas; thirteen great grandchildren and one great-great grandchild. She also leaves behind a multitude of Pendergrass, Doss, Blankenship and Chandler nieces and nephews and their families.
A Celebration of Life service and reception will be held March 16, Friday, at 2:30 pm, at the Presbyterian Church of Crossett, 309 Pine Street, Crossett, Arkansas. Officiants are Reverend Bonnie Wilkins of Omaha, Nebraska and Reverend Lauren Moore of Lake Village, Arkansas.
The family would like to thank the Ashley County Medical Center for providing an amazing staff who showed compassion and excellent care – Dr. MacDonald and surgical staff, the second floor nursing staff, the physical therapy and occupational therapy departments, the team in Generations, and the CCU staff, Jefferson Regional Medical Center medical teams, Stonegate Villa and staff, and Hospice Home Care.
In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation in Mary Frances’ name to the Greater Crossett Area Food Pantry, 309 Pine Street, Crossett, Arkansas, 71635.