Mary Frances Duren, 84, of Jesup, GA, walked into her Father’s House on Saturday evening, August 15, 2020. She was born in Greenwood, MS on May 20, 1936 to Reuben and Mary Sue Ross Duren. She is predeceased by her parents and her sister, Martha Sue Duren. Miss Duren was a graduate of Greenwood High School, 1954; Blue Mountain College, 1958; and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Fort Worth, Texas, 1962. She was a participant in a choral ensemble during her years at Blue Mountain College. After completing her education, she moved to southeast Georgia where she served in three churches. She initially served Central Baptist Church in Waycross and then moved to Calvary Baptist Temple in Savannah. In January 1972 she began her ministry with Jesup First Baptist Church. Her ministry with First Baptist Church spanned twenty-eight years before her retirement in December 1999. Following her retirement, she continued to serve as a lay minister in various areas for an additional eighteen years. During her years of service, she filled many different roles. She worked with children, youth, Senior Adults, and the Education Ministry of the church. She dedicated many years to serving those with disabilities and established the Happy Hearts Sunday School Class. Miss Duren was well known throughout the local area and state for her work. She led conferences for Georgia Baptists related to Special Ministries and Vacation Bible School. She was honored in June 2014 by the Mental Health America Wayne County with a Community Advocate Award for her work with special needs ministries. In October 2014 she was recognized by the Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregiving as a Georgia Care-Net Volunteer Caregiver of the Year. Additionally, in May 2015 she was awarded the Mildred Huie Leadership Award from Easter Seals Southern Georgia for her work to establish Sunday School classes for adults with special needs. She was instrumental in starting a monthly Respite evening for children and parents in Wayne County. Georgia Baptists also established a Mary Frances Duren Special Needs Teacher of the Year Award in her honor that was presented to a Sunday School Teacher in Georgia.
Miss Duren is survived by her goddaughter, Melissa A. (Dave) Hogan, of Winchester, VA. She is also survived by several cousins in Louisiana and Mississippi.
Services will be held at Jesup First Baptist Church Jesup on Tuesday, August 18, 2020 at 11 AM. Visitation will be one hour prior to the service. Burial will follow at a later date in Greenwood, Mississippi.
*Adherence to COVID -19 guidelines are to be observed including social distancing and wearing of masks.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to First Baptist Church of Jesup, GA P. O. Box 1115, Jesup, GA 31598 or Easter Seals Southern Georgia 505 Elizabeth Street, Waycross, GA 31501.
Local arrangements are under the direction of Howard Funeral Home of Ludowici, GA.
Arrangements in Mississippi are under the direction of Wilson & Knight Funeral Home of Greenwood.
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