Mary Lois Berry Jordan, 95, died Wednesday May 13th, at home in Apollo, where she lived with her daughter Becky Krug and family.
The youngest of six children, Mary Lois was born in Cabin Creek, West Virginia, to the late Rev. A.J. and Mrs. Susie Berry. She was preceded in death by her husband of 66 years, Rev. Harry E. Jordan in 2011. She lost three children: Jeffrey in 1985, Kathleen Frantz in 2009, and Jimmy a month ago.
Her survivors include children Maggie McKinney (Bruce), Jeanne Makula (Doug), Mark Berry Jordan (Sherry), Becky Krug (Eric) and former son-in-law Rev. George Frantz (Connie); 14 grandchildren; and 24 great grandchildren.
After graduating from Pioneer High School in 1942, Mary Lois worked for the Ration Board in Bryan, Ohio. Though she loved high school, she never considered college. “All I wanted was to get a job for awhile, find a nice guy, get married, and have a family,” she said. She didn’t want to marry a farmer or a minister, though. Farmers’ wives worked too hard. Preachers were too poor.
Yet in June 1945, she married Harry Jordan, a U.S. Army sergeant and Baptist seminary graduate, who wanted to preach. For over 45 years, the couple served churches in Tennessee, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. Their last church was First Baptist Church of Leechburg, Pa, where they stayed 24 years.
“It seemed I had a baby almost every place I lived,” she joked. “I was afraid to leave Leechburg for fear I’d have another baby.”
In the early years, the Jordans struggled financially, so she became a seamstress, a make-it-from-scratch cook, and sometimes a gardener. They taught their children: “The Lord will provide.” Once, they raised chickens. Later, when money wasn’t tight, Mary Lois still loved a bargain and preferred dollar stores.
She wasn’t as spiritual as she should be, she claimed, and certainly “no saint.” She complained if people sang off-key, baked brownies “without nuts” or wore olive green. She liked pretty dresses, pastel colors, and lace. She loved “good food” and didn’t sacrifice the last piece of pie to one of her children. She often ate it herself instead.
When her husband began preaching, she advised him not to be so intellectual. People liked stories, she said. She encouraged him to play the banjo and sing, including the song they came to be known for: “Ah, yes, I remember it well,” a song of mild disagreements between husband and wife.
Though she may have disagreed with him on occasion, she called their marriage “a great love story.” Together they decided not to take the advice of doctor and family members to put Jimmy, their child with Down’s Syndrome, into an institution.
And they both agreed about their faith. She always supported his work. She played the church piano with pizzazz, directed choirs, taught Sunday school, supervised Vacation Bible Schools, and hosted missionaries. Even their parties included Christian games and music.
After her husband died, she continued to visit the nursing home, sometimes alone and sometimes with Jimmy and his tambourine. The afternoon she died, she briefly thought she saw Jimmy at her bedroom door.
The family will hold a private funeral service at Leechburg’s First Baptist Church with Mark Jordan and the Rev. Jonathan Potter officiating. She will be buried in Evergreen Cemetery in Leechburg with her husband and sons. Arrangements have been entrusted to the Clawson Funeral & Cremation Center, 170 Main Street, Leechburg (724-842-1051).
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