Pastors' Memoirs

Joseph Lee Marker, 1899-1988

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Joseph Lee Marker, known as Lee to his colleagues, was born in 1899 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He was one of three children. At the age of 11, his family moved to a small farm in the rural outskirts of Clayton, Delaware. Lee was a self-motivated boy with a strong desire to learn. His desires and dreams were far beyond that of the average boy in his community. He had a yearning to study the violin and would walk five miles every Saturday to take lessons -even in the most severe winter weather.

While planting tomatoes in a field one summer, he had a calling from God. God wanted him to come into the ministry. It was always very vivid in his mind.

Lee graduated from Western Maryland Seminary. His roommate was the beloved George Ports.

His first charge was in Queen Anne County, Maryland -a small rural church in Queenstown. He loved to tell the story of his trip on the steamer from Baltimore to Queenstown -the unpaved roads and his first Ford car with the high running boards. It was at this first charge that he met his beautiful wife Frances Dodd, with her long, flowing red hair. Little did he know that Frances was to be the "Rock" of his life, a truly dedicated minister's wife and mother, who never left his side.

In 1930 he moved to a rural area near Chestertown, Maryland, known as St. James. Lee and Frances lived there 10 years. It was at St. James that Lee became an avid tennis player. He would challenge the students at the Chestertown College and would usually win. He was extremely competitive.

In 1940, with the merger of the Virginia conference, Lee was sent to Claremont, Virginia, a small town on the James River. He served three churches and stayed there two years.

The next four years were spent in Dinwiddie, in the Petersburg District. He served three churches, and taught Bible classes at the high school.

In 1946 Lee was sent to Accomac on the Eastern Shore. He served three churches for six years. He was always very proud of building a new church in Tasley, a town that had no church.

From Accomac, he moved to Belle Haven, Virginia, still on the Eastern Shore. Lee and Frances never quite got over their love for the Eastern Shore. After 11 years, it was an extremely difficult place to leave.

Lee and his family left the Eastern Shore and moved to Fishersville, Virginia, located in the beautiful Valley of Virginia. After three years in the Valley, he was sent to Hamilton, Virginia, a small town near Leesburg, Virginia.

In 1961 Lee retired from the ministry. He and Frances moved to a retirement home in Ashland, Virginia. It was a lovely small town close to Richmond.

After the death of his beloved wife, Frances, Lee lived at the Hermitage in Richmond. He could never adjust to her passing. It was there he died, February 29, 1988, at the age of 90.

He is survived by a son, a daughter, and three grandchildren.

Lee was famous for his philosophical advice. He used to say, "Never eat anything just to save it," and "Some children learn better through one end then they do the other -it's up to you to find out which end it is."

--Frances Lee Marker Ames




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