Pastors' Memoirs

Malinda E. Ayres, 1920-1995

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It was March 21, 1920, when God smiled on Jessie Flipper and Louis Ayres in Richmond and gave them a daughter, Malinda Elizabeth, who would grow up and become a dynamic leader in the United Methodist Church. Her early training at home and in Boulevard United Methodist Church laid the foundation for a strong faith which never wavered as she lived a life of service to God, her church and community.

After graduating from high school, she worked as a bookkeeper for a Drug Co. Desiring to better equip herself to do God's work, she enrolled in Greensboro College where she earned a degree in Christian education in 1952. That same year she was called to be the director of the Wesley Foundation at Longwood College where she touched the lives of students, faculty, administrators and the community of Farmville in a ministry motivated by love.

Malinda was synonymous with campus ministry in the Virginia conference. She was one of the first women to work for and in campus ministry. Her strong leadership in the field of higher education was recognized by campus ministers, the conference and national Boards of Higher Education. Because of her courage, commitment and support, campus ministry is alive and well in the Virginia conference.

Malinda was extravagant in her love to family, friends, and all who needed her. She was a friend to the sick, the needy and lonely, listening with her heart and head to the hurts and joys of those in her midst. She gave comfort when needed and chastisement when necessary. Her love and concern knew no bounds. She was famous for her telephone calls, notes of cheer and letters of encouragement. She radiated life and joy and loved her God and appreciated the beauty of God's world. She liked to fish, watch baseball games and travel. She and her friends were planning a cruise to the Panama Canal in the spring and a journey to Hawaii in the fall when death called January 25, 1995.

Malinda retired in 1987 after serving the Wesley Foundation at Longwood and Hampden-Sydney colleges 35 years. Her friend, Merry Lewis Allen, recalls Malinda as an integral part of the Farmville community and it was expected that she retire there among her friends. Malinda continued to serve on the administrative board of Farmville United Methodist Church, where she had served as the Benevolence Fund coordinator for many years. She was a volunteer for the Farmville retirement centers -- Brookview and Holly Manor Nursing Home, and a volunteer at Southside Community Hospital, serving in the emergency room for 10 years, where she assisted ER patients and their families. She was a founder of the South Central Chapter of the American Diabetic Association. She served on the board until her death.

Malinda was devoted to her brother, John, and his wife, Jean, their children Linda Hamilton, Janet Peck and Johnny Ayres, her three great-nephews, and a great-niece who survive her.

A memorial service was held at the Farmville United Methodist Church, January 29, 1995. Representatives from the church, Longwood College, Southside Community Hospital and friends witnessed to the life of Malinda Elizabeth Ayres. These lines from Julia Canvey's "Little Things" capture much of what Malinda Ayres meant to so many.

Little deeds of kindness
Little words of love
Make our world an Eden
ike the Heaven above.

- Loreeda Jones Niemann & Merry Lewis Allen

 

 

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