My sister Marilyn has been a strength and an inspiration to me for my entire life. Our mother died of advanced breast cancer when I was one and a half years old and because Marilyn was 3 years older, I depended on her for much of the love and nurture one would normally get from their mother. She helped teach me to read and write, and often read stories to me at night when it was time for bed. We shared a bedroom in our early years, and because I knew she was older and braver, I would always call out to her if I awakened scared. As a small child I didn’t pronounce her name correctly, and it would come out as “Murlyn.” Later when Pop married our step-mother, Athie whom we called Mom; she would occasionally hear me call out in the middle of the night, “Murlyn, I’m scared. Can you turn on the light?” She never failed to turn the light on for me and to calm whatever fears I had.
Marilyn was also much wiser than I and had a calm reassuring demeanor toward me. I don’t remember her ever being stumped by any question I posed, or being emotionally rattled by a frightful situation. Our Bubba loved trying to scare us at night by turning off all the lights in our home by the main power switch which was in the stairwell to the basement. He would come up the stairs of our darkened 2 story home; clomping his feet; talking in a low scary voice saying, “The wicked monster is going to get all the little children and swallow them up!” While we huddled together in our bedroom as quietly as possible, I knew if I could hold onto Marilyn, she would save me from that “wicked monster.” I don’t remember what caused the monster to give up, but thought it must have been something that Marilyn had said or done.
She never scolded me nor spoke a harsh word to me, although I know there were many times I needed correction. She must have had to bite her tongue often! In thinking about that one quality she demonstrated toward me, I believe I would have been terrified had she ever been harsh or unkind.
During our teenage years I was not as close to Marilyn for several reasons. She was not interested in sports like I was, and she was spending lots of time with her many friends, and also she was dating. I always checked out the guys she dated to make sure they were suitable for my big sister. When she decided to attend the University of Texas, I couldn’t believe she would go to a school that was such a bitter rival of my beloved Arkansas Razorbacks. It turned out to be the absolute best decision for her, because it was there she met a handsome guy from Lubbock named George Berry. They dated for more than a year and were married in El Dorado on July 27, 1957. Although I liked George very much and was certain he was the right person for Marilyn; when the wedding was over and I was alone, I remember crying pretty hard because somehow I thought Marilyn was gone from my life, and I wouldn’t see her very much anymore.
George was blessed with a highly intelligent and sharp mind, and was awarded a doctorate degree in Banking and Finance from the University of Texas. It was always fun for me to tell friends that my sister was married to “Dr. Berry” since that was the name that many people in El Dorado called Pop. George began his career as a professor in the Department of Banking and Finance at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, but eventually made a transition into the business world as a financial consultant. Throughout the years George has been highly sought throughout the entire state of Texas because of his wisdom and skills in financial matters. As a result of his success in the field of consulting, they moved to Austin in 1978.
Marilyn and George have 4 sons who are now wonderful men with very successful careers. James, the eldest son is a Professor in the Department of Anesthesia at Vanderbilt University and has achieved national prominence in his field. His wife, Elizabeth has her doctorate in Medical Ethics from Rice University and is also a Professor at Vanderbilt. She has authored textbooks in her field and now travels world-wide conducting seminars and teaching assignments. James and Liz have 2 daughters.
Their second son John, lives in Houston with wife Pat and they have 2 sons. John graduated from the University of Texas with a degree in Business Administration and has become very successful as a financial leasing broker. John and Pat’s strong Christian commitment has brought them through a recent trial of an extremely serious accidental injury to their oldest son, Brad. He is recovering, and the entire family is gaining greater strength as a result of their trials.
Robert, their 3rd son is an attorney in Austin and specializes in bankruptcy cases. He has a compassionate heart for people who find themselves in serious financial crises because of poor decisions, and he is making a difference for those who will follow his wise counsel. Robert has not yet married.
Their youngest son David, is a physician practicing in Austin specializing in maternal-fetal medicine and was just presented the inaugural award for the most outstanding physician in Austin in that particular specialty. David has 4 daughters and has been a wonderful father and role model for them.
Marilyn and George are active members of Hyde Park Baptist Church, which has been their church since moving to Austin. Marilyn teaches a Sunday School class of senior adult ladies and has done so for almost 10 years. Prior to that she taught in the children’s ministry. Cathy and I had the privilege of serving with Marilyn and George in the International Congress on Revival during the decade of 1995 to 2005. We travelled extensively in Europe and in Ireland as part of a ministry of encouragement to pastors and their wives. In our first year together in the ICR ministry, we went with the team to Israel and experienced God’s power released in each of our lives in new and fresh commitment to Him and to others. Since that shared experience in Israel, the close relationship between Marilyn, George, Cathy and me has grown even closer and stronger.
In His Sermon on the Mount recorded in Matthew 5, Jesus said, “Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid.” –“Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” Marilyn has been letting her light shine since she was a 4 year old turning on the light for her little brother, who was scared in the dark and afraid the light may never come back on for him. She has been letting her light shine for her husband, her children and grandchildren that they may become all that God wants of them. She is shining the light of her life for the sake of a group of elderly women, so that in their latter years they may experience Jesus in a new and fresh way before they meet Him face to face. She is indeed an inspiration to everyone her life touches, and will freely admit, it is because The Light of the world lives within her.