Lena “Marie” Priest of Batesville passed away on July 19. She attended Arkansas State College in Jonesboro (now Arkansas State University) and State Teacher’s College in Conway (now University of Central Arkansas). She and Retired BMA Pastor Forrest Priest were married on June 17, 1953 at Little River Baptist Church.
Bro. Priest served as a missionary for the Mount Calvary Association and planted and later served as pastor of the Oak Grove Liberty Baptist Church in Tuckerman. Other pastorates include White Hall, McCrory; Lakeside, Newport; Westside, Osceola; Meadow Lake, Oil Trough; and Sardis Road, Mabelvale. He also served for 11 years as an Arkansas state missionary to plant and later pastor Ramsey Heights in Batesville and served as pastor of Hillcrest in Cave City before retiring from the pastorate in 1997.
Mrs. Marie was a faithful pastor’s wife throughout her husband’s career. She learned to play piano as a girl and played piano in church all her life until Alzheimer’s Disease finally took that skill away. She also taught Sunday School all her adult life, usually the Junior class, and, for several years, wrote Sunday School literature that was used by most BMA churches.
She first started working as a teacher in Dyess with a 60-hour certificate, and eventually studied during summers to obtain her Master’s degree from Arkansas State University. Her Masters had an emphasis in reading, and she loved teaching children to read. She retired from teaching after 38 years, 13 of those in Batesville. She continued to be involved with the school after retirement, volunteering to come to the school and read to students. Marie joined her husband in Kiwanis and headed a program to buy books and give them to children.
She enjoyed making quilts and giving them to those she loved. These cherished works remain a treasure to any privileged to have them. She also enjoyed doing hand embroidery and cross-stitch. She also liked flowers at her home and maintained flower beds and a flower garden. She disliked cooking, but managed to do a decent job at it anyway.
Survivors include: her husband of 69 years; a son, Kenneth (Marieda) Priest; a daughter, Connie (David “Doc”) Spurlin; six grandchildren, Daniel (Emily) Priest, Jon (Lena) Priest, Michael (former Trumpet Assist. Editor Madelaine) Priest, Jessica Priest, DJ Spurlin and Josh Spurlin; a sister, Janice (Pete) Clark; and eight great-grandchildren.
Funeral services were July 23 at the Doty Southside Funeral Service Chapel in Southside. Interment was at Oaklawn Cemetery in Batesville, under the direction of Doty Southside Funeral Service of Southside (dotysouthsidefuneral.com).