Mary Rebecca Ferrell Hendrick
Mary Bebecca Ferrell Hendrick, 99, died in her beautiful room at The Blake in Ridgeland, MS, May 29, 2020. She was isolated for several weeks with COVID-19, but her youngest daughter, Ann Hendrick, in full pandemic gear, was permitted to be with her when she died. Born in Etta, MS, on July 27, 1920, Mary lived in Oxford with her parents, Arthur Clay Ferrell and Dorothy Baker Ferrell, until her mother died of cancer and was buried on Christmas Eve, 1934. Mary and her three siblings, Baker (always known as "Brother" and even "Uncle Brother"), Dot, and Bob, then lived with their maternal grandparents in Etta, a tiny community between Oxford and New Albany. Mary briefly attended the University of Mississippi.
Following a stint in Memphis where her husband Jim completed his training as a pediatrician, the couple moved in 1949 to Jackson where they lived for over fifty years. A decade after her husband's sudden death in 2001, Mary relocated to The Blake in Ridgeland. A longtime member of Calvary Baptist Church, Mary became a founding member of Northminster Baptist Church in 1967, rejoining Calvary in 1999 while remaining active in both "open door" congregations. Describing herself as a theological liberal, she spent decades quietly working to ensure racial equality and social justice. Her activities included positions on the Human Relations Council, three terms on the Antipoverty Relations Council, selection as the sole white female in a diverse group of citizens vying for ownership of WLBT's television license, involvement in biracial dinner clubs and sewing groups, and helping establish Head Start in Jackson and Hinds County. Into her eighties she continued as a reading tutor to elementary students in three Jackson public schools. More privately, during the Freedom Summer, she made sandwiches which she took to Freedom Riders imprisoned in makeshift cells at the MS State Fairgrounds.
Mary is survived by daughters Janet Hendrick Clark (John), of Ridgeland; Rebecca (Becky) Ferrell Hendrick (Ray Parish) of Tucson, AZ; Ann Hendrick (Jim Kopernak) of Jackson; five grandchildren; 11 nieces and nephews; and a "great"- generation spread throughout the country. She was preceded in death by her three siblings (Baker Ferrell, Dorothy Polen, Robert Ferrell) and, most recently, by her grandson Ethan Baker Clark.
Donations in her memory may be made to His Heart Ministry, an inner-city ministry to the children, youth, and families of the West Park neighborhood of Jackson. His Heart is a ministry of Calvary Baptist Church, 1300 West Capitol St., Jackson, MS 39203 or online at hisheartforjackson.com.
A memorial service celebrating her long and influential life was held June 5, 2020 at Northminster.