She was the epitome of grace, style, warmth and hospitality.
She also was one of the sweetest and kindest Christian ladies I have ever had the privilege of knowing. You could see Christ’s presence permeating her life.
She was Bessie Mae Ledbetter Pryor, whose funeral is today. She was 92.
Her late husband, Dr. Joe Pryor, was the longtime academic dean and yearbook advisor at Harding, and I was one of the yearbook kids who was invited into the Pryor home each fall for a delicious meal to kick off the year. My senior year I edited the Petit Jean, and the Pryor’s youngest daughter, Susan, was editing the Academy section, which was still included in the college book then. We soon became good friends and share laughs over that year to this day.
One Friday afternoon near deadline time, staffers were bemoaning our normal cafeteria fare for the evening meal. Our groans did not fall on deaf ears as Susan quickly made a call home, and we were soon the Pryor’s guests eating one of those delicious home-cooked meals Bessie Mae was known for in the Pryor’s home located next to the Student Center. We were made to feel like welcome guests, rather than a group of kids who had basically invited ourselves over for dinner!
It is just one example of the many ways Bessie Mae served us and so many other students. A 40-year sponsor of Regina social club, many girls felt her loving care in their lives as did the boys of TNT social club, which Dr. Joe sponsored.
She and Dr. Joe were the couple I most admired as a student. Those of us who experienced it will never forget their love and dedication to the students of Harding.
Our hearts go out to her daughters, Beverly Jo and Susan, and her granddaughter, current Harding student Audrey Hodges. Heaven is definitely a little nicer now.
Tom Buterbaugh, editor/designer