By Lonnie Wilkey
Editor, Baptist and Reflector
Vickie Anderson, executive director of Tennessee Woman’s Missionary Union, stopped by my office on April 23 to tell me that Martha Waller had died at the age of 99, just a few months before her 100th birthday.
Mrs. Waller was the mother of former Tennessee WMU staff member Linda Rader and was a strong supporter of WMU and Tennessee Baptist life in general. She also was a staunch friend of the Baptist and Reflector.
In 2012, the B&R was promoting a “Friends of the B&R,” an effort to gain subscriptions for the paper. Mrs. Waller was a “friend” long before that promotion began. During that year alone she provided more than 10 subscriptions to members of the Sunday School class she taught at the time (at the age of 92). Her church had stopped providing subscriptions to its members, so she took the matter into her own hands.
Mrs. Waller did not stop in 2012. Her list grew to as many as 20 gift subscriptions year after year, including 17 that she had renewed for this year.
I had the privilege of having lunch with her and her daughter in 2012. We didn’t lack for conversation. Those who loved her most would readily admit she had an opinion about a lot of things and wasn’t afraid to express it.
I remember two things we discussed. I asked if she had a computer. Her reply, “I don’t want one. I have enough to do without it.”
On the Baptist and Reflector, she noted, “I want the print version. I like to have the paper and read it when I want to.” She told me she had been reading the paper for nearly 60 years. Add seven years to that total because she continued reading until the Lord called her home. I am so glad she was able to attend one last Get-Together in April. Those were special times for her (see photo).
Over the years I would see her at the WMU Get-Togethers in Gatlinburg. She always had a smile and a kind word for the B&R. She loved Tennessee Baptists and wanted to stay informed.
We need more “superstar” subscribers like Mrs. Waller. She said she loved the paper and she backed it up with her pocketbook. We do have a handful of other readers who send multiple gift subscriptions and we appreciate each one of them. May their tribe increase. We need more subscribers.
In the days ahead, remember the family of Mrs. Waller. Her passing will leave a void in their lives and the lives of those who knew her best. She was a beloved member of Covenant Baptist Church in Brentwood. Our loss is heaven’s gain.