daughter of Joseph Franklin Martin - Annie Mae Legate
Stella Pearl Bishop, nee Martin, born on February 24, 1908 in Hill County, TX passed away in Cary, NC on February 3, 2001. Her burial service was conducted on Tuesday, February 6, 2001 at the First United Methodist Church in Seymour, with Reverend Derrell Patterson of Abilene, TX officiating at Stella's request. She was laid to eternal rest in the family plot at the Masonic Cemetery.
Stella was the first of six surviving children born to Annie Mae (nee Legate) and Joseph Franklin Martin. Still a small child she arrived in Baylor County in a railroad boxcar. Her father and his brothers had learned of available land in this frontier part of Texas. They cleared land in Rendham and built a house.
Later, Stella's father traded that place for land in Westover. Here, the Martins settled and Stella helped raise her sisters and then her brother, along with orphaned cousin Gladys, taken in as a foster child. She and her siblings plowed the land behind a horse.
She attended school in Westover until her father built a house in Abilene, TX where Stella and sisters Myrtle and Rubye stayed to receive higher education at McMurry College. Stella earned a teaching certificate, but more importantly became impressed with a handsome young man from Killeen, TX who worked his way through college by doing odd jobs around the campus. That first and lasting love of her life was J. Belmont Bishop. Belmont brought his group of chanters to the Martin girls' house to serenade young Stella.
The courtship lasted for two years during which time both Belmont and Stella worked to save up enough money to get married and start a family. During that time Stella taught school at Round Timber, TX.
Finally, on August 2, 1931 they got married in Westover. For a wedding present, Stella's parents had given three chickens to the young couple, which they took with them on their honeymoon trip to the Adolphus Hotel in Dallas, TX.
In those depression days it was hard to carve out a living. Belmont's next teaching job was in Floydada, TX where Stella took in other teachers as boarders. Other assignments were schools in Archer City, TX and Megargel, TX. Stella and Belmont finally acquired some land west of Westover and settled there to raise their family.
Tragedy struck early, when the couple's first two children, son Harold Lee, and daughter Monte Joyce died as infants. Both were buried in the Westover cemetery.
The Bishops then adopted a three day old boy, born on May 3,1936, and named him Michael Mann. Seven years later, on August 26, 1943, a son was born, Jack Belmont, and another three years later, on April 6, 1946, a girl, Rebecca Jane.
While Belmont rose at 4:00 a.m. to work the land, and then drive the school bus into Seymour, where he taught school all day, Stella provided a nurturing home to her children and their father. Being an expert seamstress she prided herself in sewing beautiful clothes for her children and later her grandchildren. In her garden she grew vegetables and fruits to feed the family and she canned as much as she could save for a cold day. Always there were flowers to adorn the homestead.
In 1957 Stella and Belmont designed and built a house in town on Plants Street where they lived for the next 30 years.
Stella taught piano and played the organ at the First United Methodist Church of Seymour. She loved music and also sang in the choir. At church she belonged to the Methodist Women, Escalator Class, and the Harmony Club. Stella and Belmont were family oriented, their large extended family in Seymour and vicinity included her parents Annie Mae and Joseph Franklin Martin, sister Jo and husband George Farr, sister Rubye and husband Joe Loe, sister Myrtle and husband Pat Barton, sister Oneita and husband Art Harris, brother Derrell Martin and wife Otekia, and their many children. Additionally, there were all the Martin cousins. This large family was further extended by Belmont's relatives, brother Cyril Bishop and wife Mildred, and their children. All holidays and family events were celebrated in this large family context, and therefore made for many memories in Stella's life.
Shortly after having moved into town, Stella was diagnosed with breast cancer and had to undergo grueling treatment, including extensive surgery and radiation therapy. These were trying times for the entire family when the teenage children had to take over all the household chores. But Stella through much worrying and praying survived this cancer, and later survived two other bouts of cancer. Coping with illness turned her into an advisor for many other women who asked her for advice when they were confronted with that disease. She also developed her handicrafts to new heights. She made quilts for all the children, knitted, made rugs, ceramics, embroidery, all to help her forget the cancer, but also to shower as much love on her family as she could express with her hands. She also became an avid reader, loved the game of Bridge, and loved winning. She and Belmont later joined a square dancing club and enjoyed traveling with that group.
In 1985 Stella became gravely ill with heart disease and over the next few years underwent numerous heart procedures including open-heart surgery. This illness also forced Stella to move out of her home on Plants Street to Wichita Falls, to be closer to a cardiac intensive care unit. She had had to stay in that unit often. While Stella's frequent serious medical problems put a severe emotional and material strain on the family, they also forged even tighter bands between Stella and Belmont, her children and grandchildren, and her siblings. They all thanked God for the wonderful opportunity that He had given them for being together as a family.
Stella's illness also introduced her to host of new friends, her doctors and nurses at Bethania Hospital in Wichita Falls, at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas, at the Texas Heart Institute in Houston, and at Rex Hospital in Raleigh, NC. Lasting friendships developed. She especially appreciated caretakers at Rolling Meadows Retirement Community, Arbor House, both in Wichita Falls, TX, and Carolina House, and Heartsfield Retirement Communities in Cary, NC.
Stella's strength came from her strong belief in Jesus Christ as her Savior and Lord. Much of her handiwork was devoted to Christian symbols. Her last words with her daughter were praying the 23rd Psalm. A few days later, after her son Jack had stayed up with her all night, she bowed her head as she went to be with the Lord while Mark Walkowe, her granddaughter Jill's husband, held her hands and prayed with her.
Stella Pearl Bishop is survived by her husband of 69 years, J.Belmont Bishop, son Jack B. Bishop,Ph.D., and wife Irene of Raleigh,NC, daughter Rebecca J. Hein and husband H.A.Tillmann Hein,M.D. of Dallas,TX, daughter-in-law Charlotte Bishop of Milpitas,CA, grandson Monte M. Bishop and wife Debbie of San Jose,CA, granddaughter Jodie Robinson and husband Don of Eugene,OR, granddaughter Jill Walkowe and husband Mark of Durham,NC, grandson Jamin B. Bishop and wife Jaime of Wake Forest,NC, granddaughter Bettina M.C. Hein of St.Gallen,Switzerland, grandson H.K.Florian Hein of Mannhein,Germany, great-grandchildren Alex and Bailey Bishop, Michael Robinson, Michael and Derek Walkowe, and Jeremy Bishop, sister Jo Farr and husband George, and brother Derrell L. Martin and wife Otekia, both of Seymour,TX, and cousin Gladys Dormier of Arlington,TX.
She was preceded in death by her sons Harold Lee and Michael Mann, daughter Monte Joyce, and by her sisters Myrtle Barton, Rubye Loe, and Oneita Harris.