Carolyn is a member of First Presbyterian Church who has taught Sunday school and served on numerous committees and councils in her 68-year-long membership. She and her husband Dick owned and operated a manufacturing company producing exercise equipment for over 30 years. Carolyn is now retired in the Dallas area. This is her story.
I’ve been a member of First Presbyterian Church since 1950, when my father was transferred to Dallas. We lived in Shreveport at the time and a local minister suggested we try several churches in the Dallas area, but he predicted we would end up at First Presbyterian Church. We thought, “How’d he know?”
The senior pastor here was Frank Brown. He was very much a scholar and preached in his frock-tail coat on Sundays. He was a genuinely nice man, but rather intimidating to us young folks and very formal.
Back then the church had a Sunday school class for young single men and women. That’s where I met Dick. He and I had a lot of mutual friends in the church and we were both from small families. My husband was an Okie from Oklahoma. He graduated from Oklahoma University but got his Master’s in engineering at the rival University of Texas (we used to get teased about that all the time). He was a dedicated churchman and very thoughtful and sensible. I think people valued his dedication and forthrightness.
I studied English at SMU and after teaching several years, including a stint in Germany, when Dick and I decided to get married: On March 5, 1960, we were married in the chapel. We worked together at our company where we manufactured exercise equipment for over 30 years.
We lived near a streetcar line back then and some mornings we would ride it downtown to church. In those days, coming to church on Sunday mornings was different. A lot of the older people at the church were dear to us, but we young people were intimidated by them.
I have lots of good memories of parties with Sunday school classes over the years. At first the church didn’t have many class options for young married people, so a minister asked a few of us to start a class. We started what used to be called the Double Ring class—now it’s called the Foster Open Ring class, named after Dan Foster, our first class leader.
The FPC of today still has the friendliness of the church I knew when I first came to Dallas. We are very accepting of all kinds of people. I think a real hallmark of our church is that people go the extra mile to make people feel welcomed.
FPC Dallas became a real family for both of us. This church family stood by me when my husband passed away. That’s one of those things you never forget. Now that my husband is gone and I have gotten older, the church has become even more important to me. There are so many church friends that I could call if I needed them in the middle of the night for help. That’s been true for a long, long time.
When Dick and I first married we didn’t have much, but we contributed what we could. We were always very grateful for the times we were able to increase our giving or the times we were able to give to something special. I guess I wouldn’t consider not giving, because of what the church has meant to me over the years. I can’t physically do as much as I used to do at the church, but I can still give.