A celebration of life will be held for Mary Dean Feltner Futrell at noon, 12:00 PM CST, Saturday, July 22, 2017, at Rock Front Baptist Church, 3211 Linton Road (Highway 164) outside of Cadiz. Dr. Futrell passed away July 17, 2017, in Nashville after a brief illness at age 93.
She had lived at the family farm in Cadiz for the past 28 years and had been active in numerous organizations, including the James Thomas chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR). She received the 2014 NSDAR Mary Smith Lockwood Medal for Education Presentation and Recognition, a national founders medal in recognition for lifetime achievements in cultural, education, humanitarian, and Christian service locally and worldwide.
She was also a member of the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association (NARFE), and the Woman’s Missionary Union at Cadiz Baptist Church. She was a member of Rock Front Baptist Church.
She was born Jan. 5, 1924, in Trigg County. Mary Feltner graduated from Big Rock High School in 1940 at age 16 as valedictorian. She continued to excel academically, earning a BS in Home Economics from Austin Peay State University in 1944; a Master’s in Nutrition in 1949 and a PH.D. in Biochemistry/Nutrition in 1952, both from the University of Wisconsin. In 1947, she married Maurice C. Futrell from Trigg County, who also earned a Ph.D. and worked as a plant pathologist and agronomist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The doctors Futrell went on countless mission trips. Vacations were spent on mission trips on Ailigande Island off the coast of Panama teaching Cuna Indians how to grow their own food and prepare it, or working alongside fulltime missionaries in Ecuador. He worked in agriculture, and she in nutrition. Maurice Futrell was a founding member of Agricultural Missions in Tupelo, Ms., which later became Global Outreach International. She worked alongside him as he served on the board of Global Outreach. After his sudden death in 1975, she continued her mission trips and served as a member of the Board of Directors for Global Outreach for 35 years.
Her work and mission trips took her to more than 35 countries around the world. In 1976, she founded a school, the Dr. Maurice Futrell Social Service Centre, and later a children’s home named after her late grandson, the Michael Dean Futrell home in Bangalore, India. Initially, boys lived in the home, and when she was able to support another building, girls began living there as well. An estimated 2,000 children have benefitted from the ministry over the past 41 years, which is now supported by a number of individuals and groups through Global Outreach International in Tupelo, Ms.
Her career included working at the University of Wisconsin in biochemistry; as an assistant professor in the Department of Nutrition in the Experiment Station at Texas A&M University; and teaching clothing and nutrition at Ahmadubello University in Samaru, Nigeria from 1964 to 1966 while her husband took a USDA assignment there. From 1967 to 1987 she served on the Home Economics faculty at Mississippi State University, engaged in both research and teaching. She initiated the graduate program in Nutrition at MSU. She presented nationally and did research globally. She served as Mississippi State’s representative to Women in Development. In 1974 she was named Woman of the Year at MSU, and in 1974, she was honored with the Sigma Xi Scientific Award for the university. In 1981 she was honored with the Gamma Sigma Delta award for research in agriculture, an award her husband had also received in 1971. In 1982 she was named to the Honor Society of the MSU chapter of Phi Kappa Phi. In 1983 she received the MSU Alumni Association Faculty Achievement Award in recognition of outstanding achievements and continuing contributions in research. She was awarded the status of emeritus professor at MSU upon her retirement in 1987. She continued her public speaking in churches and civic clubs until age 90.
In Starkville, Ms., she served as an executive board member of the Community Day Care Centers, co-led an international Sunday School class with her husband at First Baptist Starkville.
Dr. Mary Futrell leaves two sons and their wives, Edison L. Futrell, and Patricia S.(Patti) Futrell of Marietta, Ga., John Maurice Futrell and I. Elizabeth (Lisa) Futrell of New Orleans, La., four grandchildren: Jonathan Simmons Futrell (wife Molly) of Atlanta, Ga.; Lauren Futrell Dunaway (husband Joe) of New Orleans, La.; Richard Landy Jones Futrell of Cambridge, Mass.; and Cathryn Grace Futrell of New Orleans, La.; and two great-granddaughters, Mary Frances Dunaway and Charlotte Elizabeth (Ellie) Dunaway, of New Orleans. She is preceded in death by a grandson, Michael Dean Futrell. She was the daughter of Louise Carr Feltner and George Edison Feltner, both deceased. Her sisters, were Sarah Feltner Bryant and Nita Louise Feltner Dodson, also deceased. In addition to her husband Maurice Futrell, she is preceded in death by a daughter, Lula Dean Futrell.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be sent to Global Outreach International, designated for Look Unto Jesus Ministries in Bangalore India: Global Outreach, P.O. Box One, Tupelo, MS. 38802.