Mary Hilyer: remembered for ‘true’ inner beauty

Published 8:00 pm Monday, August 9, 2010

The third chapter of I Peter tells the story of Mary Hilyer’s life.

She was submissive to the authority God placed in her life. She lived a lifestyle characterized by purity and holiness that was a testimony to others. Her true beauty came from within.

To a friend, that’s the way they will remember Mary Hilyer.

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“Mary was a fine Christian woman and a gracious, gentile Southern lady and she will be missed in so many ways,” said Lynne Stone who, like so many, admired and respected Hilyer. “I never heard anyone have anything to say about Mary that wasn’t uplifting. I don’t know of a better lady – or a better person.”

The news of Hilyer’s death on Sunday threw a cloak of sadness over the Troy community.

“Every time I hear Mary’s name I can’t help but cry,” said Susan Murphree.

“She was a dear, dear friend. I’ve never known a better person and she was a person for all ages. In my mind, Mary was the same age that I am. She got along with everybody. She was such a gregarious person — so much fun and such a wonderful influence. I never heard anyone say anything but good things about Mary.”

Hilyer was a teacher for the women’s Sunday school class, the Ann Love Class, at First United Methodist Church in Troy.

“She was a inspiring teacher but she also led by example,” Murphree said. “She led a Christian life but she often said that she didn’t think that she was doing enough. She would say, ‘I just hope that I’ve done enough.’ And, I’m sure she did. So many people will miss her. It’s so hard to let go.”

Hilyer was known for the inspiring and uplifting devotionals that she gave at the Ladies’ Luncheon at the Troy County Club and for the Troy Arts Council Auxiliary.

“Mary was a fine, gentle, sweet woman and we all loved her,” said Sue Hudson. “God’s love came through in every devotional that she gave. There was no doubt about Mary’s faith.

“It showed in all that she did. I don’t know of anything that could be said about her except something good. She will be missed, so missed.”

Hilyer’s influence transcends the years.

As an English teacher with the Troy City Schools and later with Troy (State) University, she touched many lives and her influence will continue to make a difference in the lives of those who were fortunate to be under her tutelage.

Jerry and Betty Spann have known Hilyer since their college days and said that, even back then, she led by example, and what a strong example it was.

“Mary was always such a pleasant lady and I do mean lady,” Jerry Spann said. “She never made a fuss about anything. Now, she would express herself but she did it in such a way that it was not disagreeable.”

Spann said Hilyer was a very active member of First United Methodist Church and served on every committee possible.

“She was always willing to do what needed to be done,” he said.

“She would say, ‘I’ll be glad to do that.’ She will really be missed at church and in the community.”

Hilyer was an avid reader and had a great interest in the arts and, as a member of the Troy Arts Council Auxiliary, was a strong supporter of the arts.

Mary Gene Nieves said Mary Hilyer was a Christian woman who lived her life in such a Godly way that an entire community mourned her death.

“She will long be remembered and missed by all who knew her,” Nieves said.