Bertie Mae Davis went to be with the Lord on Thursday, July 6, 2016. She was 94 and living with her daughter Ann Shuler in Fort Worth, Texas. She drew her last breath after an extended illness at 7:06 a.m. in her own room at that home, surrounded by her daughters Ann and Lydia—faithful and loving caregivers for the last two years—and Susan.
Bertie Mae was born on Oct. 19, 1921 in Bussey, Arkansas, into the family of cotton farmer Walter Albertus Collier (for whom she was named) and Suzy Yeates Collier. She acquired the nickname of Pete as a child, by which many of her nieces and nephews still know her, though no one is exactly sure of the source. She had lived at that address: 6028 Winifred Drive, Fort Worth.
Bertie Mae, an excellent student athlete, graduated from Rayville High School and attended Louisiana College, majoring in Bible. She had worked as a bookkeeper at Louisiana Power and Light and in retail clothing. She married John Thomas Davis on April 24, 1946 in Springhill. She and her husband (J.T.) pastored churches from the time they entered college at Athens, Holden, Fishville, and Ruston, before entering the home mission field in Rome, New York. As church planters, they fostered work in Rome, Floyd, New Hartford, Utica, Ballston Spa, Albany, Alexandria Bay, Schenectady and Troy in upstate New York. Later, as regional leaders, they provided loving and wise support for pastoral families of the next generation. They retired to Minden in 1982 and pastored in Dubberly.
Bertie Mae was a beautiful, gracious woman with a gift for hospitality. She made exquisite lemon meringue and coconut crème pies and loved to share desserts in the afternoon with coffee. In her 80’s she was baking fresh bread and taking it to the “senior citizens” at the nursing home. She was also a gifted seamstress, sewing her daughters’ designer wardrobes year after year, ripping and resewing more times than anyone could count. In the seventies this extended to a few polyester pantsuits worn obligingly by her patient husband. She had a sense of humor that sometimes took days to develop, “getting” the punchline days after the joke was told. She loved to read her Bible, notating who preached on what passages and what dates, and she lived what she read, taking into her home anyone who might come, giving when she couldn’t afford it, always empathetic, humble, encouraging and full of faith. She set the bar high, especially for her daughters, who have no illusions about matching her, though they do keep at it. If everyone didn’t love and admire her, they didn’t dare say it to one of them.
She is survived by three daughters—Virginia Ann Shuler, Susan Elaine Davis and husband James McMichael, Lydia Kathleen O’Brien and husband Karl Michael O’Brien and a daughter-in-law Nora Lynn Horton. Also nine grandchildren—Abbey Lynn Dupuy, Laura Ann Collins, Christopher Paul Shuler, Michael Saul Shuler, Alexandra Lane Nomavuka, Caroline Suzanne Carpenter, Jessica Ryan Crum and Madison Davis Hogue. She has 11 great-grandchildren. She is also survived by three of her husband’s sisters, who were dear as her own: Martha Hudson, Helen Allison and Carolyn Hughes and many loving nieces and nephews. She is also survived by a beagle named Bertie and her sister Tinkerbell.
She outlived her husband John Thomas Davis and his sisters Mary Baten, Marolyn Carpenter and Hattie Kathleen Garland, and her siblings John Colquitt Collier, Georgia Burdine, Hyacinth Farrow, Walter Albertus Collier, Jr. and John Samuel Collier. Two siblings were lost as children—Rufus and Gwendolyn Collier. She also suffered the untimely death of her son John Raymond Davis and her grandson Joshua Davis Shuler. Her constant companion for 14 years was her dog Annie, who preceded her by only three months.
Visitation will be held on Tuesday, July 12 from 5 until 7 p.m. at Rose-Neath Funeral Home, located at 211 Murrell St. in Minden. A service will follow on Wednesday, July 13, in the West Chapel of the First Baptist Church of Minden, located at 301 Pennsylvania Avenue in Minden. Honorary pallbearers will be Matthew Crum, Madison Hogue, Tommy John Hughes, James McMichael, Michael O’Brien and Michael Shuler.
In lieu of flowers, contributions in the name of Bertie Mae Davis may be sent to Grace Baptist Church, 8553 Turin Road, Rome, New York 13440, or Louisiana Childrens Home, 7200 Desiard St., Monroe, La. 71203.