Mary Elizabeth Lenington Taff, age 93, went home to be with her Lord, her husband, many family members and friends on Sept. 10, 2018. Mary was born to Lawrence and Pearl (Brisco) Lenington on March 23, 1925, in Cavanaugh, near Fort Smith, the first of seven children. As with most in her generation, Mary’s life was shaped by the realities of life in the 1930s and the war years of the 1940s. She shared warm memories of growing up in a family-owned dairy business. Her family moved numerous times throughout the Fort Smith-Van Buren-Barling-area during the Great Depression before settling on a farm along Highway 22 near Central City in the early 1940s. Though life was basic and possessions seemed scant, Mary’s memories of shared family and friend experiences were rich.
On Jan. 19, 1947, Mary married Verlon Taff, their earthly time together enduring until Verlon passed into eternity on Sept. 19, 2002. The couple had three children and spent their early years together near Fort Chaffee, where Verlon was employed. When Fort Chaffee was deactivated in 1965 and Verlon transferred to Fort Knox, Ky., the family moved to Valley Station in the Louisville-area. Verlon retired in 1979 and Mary and Verlon returned to Arkansas, settling in the Booneville area. Mary stayed in that area until returning to Central City in 2007. At the time of her passing, Mary lived in Copperas Cove, Texas, near her daughter, Barbara, and family.
Mary was a telephone operator/shift leader in Barling until her first child was born. After becoming a full-time wife, mother and homemaker, Mary’s accomplished sewing skills kept her home decorated and her family clothed. She enjoyed gardening, bird watching, quilting, nature and crafting in general; but by far, it was reading that fulfilled Mary’s lifelong interest in learning and knowing what was going on around her and in the world. Her passion for the vital role that reading plays in learning was evident in the countless hours she devoted to growing and maintaining wonderful libraries at Valley Station Baptist Church and First Baptist Church in Booneville. Her dedication promoted literacy and the education, growth and spiritual development of the many who used these libraries. Another hallmark of Mary’s life was her unwavering, unnoticed support of Verlon’s daily, lifelong ministry to others in service to the Lord, service that usually took priority of time and resources before leisurely pursuits or earthly possessions. In both her background and side-by-side support, she and Verlon partnered in loving others and walking with and serving God together.
Mary is survived by her three children, Barbara (Don) McConnaughhay of Gatesville, Texas, Carolyn (Kenn) Roehl of Rochester, Minn., and Duane (Linda) Taff of Cedarville; brothers, Edward Lenington and Billy Lenington of Central City and Paul (Sharron) Lenington of McAlester, Okla.; and sisters-in-law, Wanda Taff Graham, Pat (Scott) Taff and Doris (Warren) Taff. Mary is also survived by nine grandchildren, 24 great-grandchildren, four great-great grandchildren and many nieces and nephews.
Mary was preceded in death by her husband Verlon; parents, Lawrence and Pearl (Brisco) Lenington; brother, Robert Lenington; sisters, Peggy Lenington and Sharon Lenington; her father- and mother-in-law, William M. and Gertrude (Ashford) Taff; eight brothers-in-law; five sisters-in-law; one niece; and four nephews.
A time of visitation will be 6-8 p.m. Friday at Smith Mortuary in Charleston. A funeral service is scheduled for 10 a.m. Saturday at First Southern Baptist Church in Central City with burial beside her husband at Oak Valley Cemetery, south of Lavaca.
Memorials in honor of Mary may be made to Pidcoke Baptist Church, 11125 FM116, Gatesville, TX 76528; or Gideons International.
Arrangements have been entrusted to Smith Mortuary in Charleston.
Online condolences may be made at www.smithmortuaryinc.com.