“Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.” Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. – Proverbs 31:29–30 NIV
Rarely, if ever, have I used this column as a tribute to a person. This week, however, I’m stepping out of bounds in order to honor a woman who impacted many lives in the Punxsutawney community and beyond, mine included.
I was a brand new Christian when I met Mary Fugate nearly 40 years ago at my first Bible study. A young mother with a busy two-year-old, I was struggling with the adjustment from being a fulltime teacher to a fulltime wife and mother—not only to my life and my schedule, but also to our pocketbooks.
Mary, herself the mother of six, took me under her wing, inviting me to the local Christian Women’s Club luncheon as her guest. I couldn’t have afforded it otherwise.
A whole new world—new friendships (most of them lifelong), a new purpose—opened up to me. Eventually, thanks to her influence, I became a member of the CWC committee, a guide for the Friendship Bible Studies, a teacher for Good News Club (Child Evangelism Fellowship), and now, a lay preacher and inspirational columnist and speaker.
Over the years, I was honored to serve with two of her five sons on the steering committee, and subsequently the board of directors, that launched two community ministries, Campus Life/Youth for Christ and the Punxsutawney Christian School. When I taught at the school, I was further blessed to teach four of her grandsons, all fine young men.
Although I saw little of Mary through the years, I could always count on her prayers and support. For as long as I knew her, Mary hosted a Thursday morning prayer time in her home. I can’t express how much it meant to me to know my requests and needs were being lifted to the throne of grace week after week.
I ran into Mary in the grocery store right before Christmas. That moment is forever etched in my mind, heart, and spirit. She looked great—vibrant, full of joy and peace. Love shone in her eyes, encouraging words poured from her lips. We hugged. Little did I know it would be the last time I’d see her on this earth.
My heart is breaking and tears blur my vision as I write this.
To paraphrase John Donne, “No woman is an island.” Our lives are an ongoing stream in the course of time, one life touching another, touching another, touching another, on and on, until time is no more.
What I am today is because of Mary’s influence. And I know I’m not the only one. Her godly example, her love, her prayers, her support, and her encouragement are ripples that will go on through generations.
Well done, good and faithful servant! Rest in peace, Mary Fugate. I love you.
Thank you, Father, for this woman whose life has blessed my life and the lives of countless others. May the godly example she set of love, loyalty, friendship, encouragement, and support ripple down through eternity. Amen.
Read and meditate on Proverbs 31:10–31
(c) 2017 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.