In memoriam: Missionary emeritus Mary Elizabeth Leech Love, 85

Mary Elizabeth Leech Love, 1936-2021

Mary Elizabeth Leech Love, an International Mission Board missionary emeritus who shared the gospel among American Affinity Peoples in Guyana, died Aug. 10, 2021. She was 85. 

Love was born June 16, 1936, in Fort Worth, Texas, to the late Marvin Burton Leech and Helen Elizabeth Hatton Leech. As the daughter of a pastor, she lived with her family in Oklahoma, Arizona, Mexico and Abilene, Texas. She attended Abilene High School and graduated from Amarillo (Texas) High School.   

Love married Charles P. Love, on June 3, 1954, two weeks after her high school graduation. After two years at Hardin-Simmons University, Abilene, Mary gave birth to their first child, and devoted her life to raising their children and serving beside her husband in ministry. Charles was pastor of a small church in Gatesville, Texas, while attending Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Fort Worth. Mary was the pianist and taught children’s classes. From there they moved to Nebraska where Charles was the pastor of a small church and Mary was active in all facets of ministry.   

From the time she was a young child, wrote Mary when seeking missionary appointment, she had been involved in Woman’s Missionary Union‘s organization for girls (now Girls in Action). It was at a GA camp near Flagstaff, Arizona, she wrote, that “God spoke to my heart as we sang ‘How Long Must We Wait?’ and I ‘saw’ millions waiting for Christ.” 

After she and Charles were married, many influences led both to feel God’s call to missions. In 1964 the Foreign Mission Board (now International Mission Board) appointed Charles and Mary missionaries to British Guiana (now Guyana) in South America. According to her family, during more than 27 years as a missionary, Mary was busy raising five children, producing live radio programs for youth, writing books and articles for various Christian publications, hosting and coordinating volunteer mission teams, leading Sunday School classes and choirs, helping to start new churches, planning summer camp activities and mentoring young ladies and couples. 

After retiring as missionaries, Charles and Mary moved to Abilene and bought their first home. But they soon left on a volunteer mission project for 18 months in St. Lucia, West Indies. There Mary connected with several young Chinese women in their neighborhood who worked in a garment factory. She and Charles started weekly services in their home to share the gospel with these women. Next they spent three years in East Asia, where Mary taught English as a Second Language at a university.  

Back in Abilene, Mary became active in First Baptist Church’s City Lights (homeless ministry), Big A Club for children, senior choir, PrayerWorks and a mentoring program for young women. 

She was preceded in death by her oldest grandchild Michelle Edwards. She is survived by her husband of 67 years, Charles; her brothers Marvin Leech (Linda), Tim Leech (June), Carey Leech (Rhonda), and Jim Leech (Rosie); and sister-in-law Dorothy Leech. She is also survived by her children Debi S. Mulkey (Richard), Kathy Edwards Crowder (Mark), Charles David Love (Ginger), John K. Love (Marjorie) and Donna Elizabeth Tiemeyer (Jerry); 17 grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren. 

A celebration of life was held Aug. 18, 2021, at First Baptist Church, Abilene.

Read an obituary here.