SHREVEPORT, La. — Mary Davis Bryant died in early October 2019 at Christus Highland Medical Center in Shreveport. Her husband, Stafford Bryant, was by her side.
Mary was born in Memphis, Tennessee, in 1943, to her beloved parents Nathaniel and Luna Mae (Becky) Davis. Her father owned Nat’s Truck Stop on Highway 51, and while it was an important North Mississippi landmark mid-century, it was also the family home shared with Mary’s darling grandmother, Corrie Hunt Reynolds. Mary graduated from Hernando High School in 1961 before attending Northwest Mississippi Community College. In 1962, Mary wed her high school sweetheart and U.S. Air Force airman Stafford. This year they celebrated 57 years of marriage.
Mary spent 38 years in Shreveport, Louisiana, where she worked as an executive administrative assistant for several corporations. At the age of 26, Mary heard the good news of Jesus Christ’s extravagant love and surrendered her life to this love. She was a faithful lay leader, choir member, children’s Sunday School teacher, and secretary, at Linwood Baptist Church and then Bellaire Baptist Church in the Shreveport-Bossier area.
In 1997, Mary and Stafford sold their Louisiana home and moved to a 36-foot motorhome with a desire to travel the whole of North America. They found themselves parked rather indefinitely in 2000 outside of Calgary, Alberta, Canada. For 10 years they served the Canadian Convention of Southern Baptists for the majority of every year. There Mary used her administrative skills to support the behind-the-scenes work of starting new churches across the nation. Mary fell in love with Canada. She was fully alive in those years of ministry as a NAMB Mission Service Corp Missionary and the sweet friends she met there remained deeply precious to her.
Mary was diagnosed with Stage IV Ovarian Cancer in November 2010. Fighting cancer required Mary and Stafford move back to the United States where they alternately lived between Shreveport during cancer treatment and on Kentucky Lake in Gilbertsville, Kentucky when free. Whether in chemo or a Dairy Queen, Mary’s sparkle never diminished. During her nearly 10-year battle with cancer, Mary charmed doctors and nurses far and wide, traveled on multiple European and Caribbean cruises, shaved her hair four times with sass and spunk, celebrated her 70th birthday at Walt Disney World, avidly consumed BBC murder mysteries, danced to Elvis, and wrestled against cancer with a steady diet of vanilla ice cream.
Mary was a member of First Baptist Church, Benton, Kentucky, and adored her friends in that fellowship. She was active in the Women’s Missionary Union for most of her life and while she interceded in prayer for missionaries around the world, her heart maintained its focus on Canada until the end. Mary trusted Jesus with her life and with her death. She was confident not only her life but her long fight with cancer served a divine purpose. She leaves behind many who are grateful to have been loved by her for so long.
In addition to her husband, Stafford, her family includes her daughters and dearest companions, Chris and Wendi. She welcomed their husbands, Clay Pace (Chris) and Dale Roach (Wendi), into her family as her own sons. Joy was added through the life of her granddaughter, Meredith Pace. Mary also leaves behind many nieces and nephews who brought her great delight. Mary’s open heart transformed many friends into family. She considered Inez Kernick of Benton, Louisiana, a cherished sister and Frenk Hatangimana of Houston, Texas, an honorary grandson.
Mary has joined her family members who preceded her in death. In addition to her parents, she joins her siblings James Davis, JoAnn McFadden, and Shirley Thompson.
Mary’s family is grateful for the faithful love and friendship shown to Mary these many years. Special gratitude is given to Inez Kernick for her generous hospitality in making a home for Mary and her family during cancer treatment; Dr. Scott Boniol and the staff at Christus Cancer Treatment Center who long provided excellent and warmhearted care; to her prayer warriors at First Baptist Benton, Bellaire Baptist, CNBC, and The Illinois Central Fishing Club; and to those who surrounded Mary with loving support, laughter, and delicious meals which she often skipped for dessert.
Visitation will be held Saturday, October 5, 2019, at 10:30 am at Collier Funeral Home in Benton, Kentucky. The funeral service at noon will be officiated by Bro. Don Wilson. A graveside service will be held on Sunday, October 6, 2019, at 2:30 pm at Edmondson Cemetery in Southaven, Mississippi. All who love Mary and her family are welcome to attend these celebrations of her well-lived life.