Mary Lynn Cantrell departed this life on October 9, 2023, at the age of 87. She was born on September 20, 1936, in Roscoe Texas, the second child of Vera Key Pitts Wiman and Ernest William Wiman. She grew up on her parents' windswept cotton farm six miles northwest of town, with her grandparents and with many of her 21 Wiman aunts and uncles and 37 first cousins close at hand. In 1949, the family moved into town, and Mary Lynn graduated first in her class from Roscoe High School in 1955.
As a high school freshman, she had met senior Jimmie Cantrell when they were the two finalists in the local table tennis tournament. Four years later, a week after she graduated from high school, she married Jimmie in a double ceremony (with cousins Frank and Virginia Cleckler) in a packed First Baptist Church of Roscoe, where the Wimans were pillars of the church.
At the time of their marriage, Jimmie worked in the lumber business and the couple settled in Abilene, but a year later they moved back to Roscoe when Jimmie went to work at a two-man car dealership. Their first child, Diana, was born in 1956. In 1958, the Cantrells moved to Cooper, Texas, shortly after the birth of their second child, Gregg. Jimmie borrowed the money to buy the local Chevy dealership there, and Mary Lynn became his bookkeeper, a profession she practiced with great skill in the family's subsequent moves to Roswell, New Mexico, in 1967, where Jimmie was the Volkswagen dealer, and to Abilene in 1971, where he owned the Cadillac dealership. In his business career, Jimmie always credited Mary Lynn for whatever successes he enjoyed. In Abilene she was an active member of the Altrusa Club and the First Baptist Church.
In 1984, the Cantrells moved to Kingsland, Texas, to live on Lake LBJ. They moved to Austin in 1985, then back to Lake LBJ in 1986. Mary Lynn's great passion was gardening-she was a certified Texas Master Gardener-and in 1989 she prevailed upon Jimmie to move to Tyler, where she could indulge that passion in a place not plagued by the dry winds of West Texas or the rocky soil of the Hill Country. But Jimmie missed Abilene, and in 1992, they moved back there for good.
Those who knew Mary Lynn remember her as a kind, gentle, soft-spoken person who, practicing her Christian faith, always put others first. Although she was a perfectionist in most everything she did, she never held others' shortcomings against them. She loved travel, and she and Jimmie saw most of the fifty states, often in an Airstream trailer; they also traveled extensively abroad. Though she never attended college, she cultivated a keen intellect, even taking a summer course on the fiction of C.S. Lewis at Oxford University in England. She continued to make new friends to the very end of her life, all the while maintaining cherished friendships with her oldest friends. A person of enormous dignity, the thought of being seen in public without flawless hair and clothes was unthinkable to her. Even in her last weeks when she was homebound, arduous trips to the hair salon remained a necessity.
She was preceded in death by her parents and her daughter Diana, and is survived by her husband Jimmie, son Gregg (Stephanie); grandsons Calvin (Emma-Rae) and Nolan; son-in-law Mike Connor (Sheila); sister Frances Hattin (Ron); brother Bill Wiman (Gail), sister-in-law Janet Wiman; and many dozens of cousins.
A memorial service will be held at the First Baptist Church at 11:00 a.m., Saturday, October 21, 2023. Services are under the direction of The Hamil Family Funeral Home, 6449 Buffalo Gap Road, Abilene.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorial donations be made to the City Lights ministry at First Baptist Church or the charitable cause of your choice.
Memories may be shared, and condolences submitted at: www.HamilFamilyFuneralHome.com