“Let not your heart be troubled; ye believe in God, believe also in me…And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself, that where I am, there ye may be also.” John 14:1-3
Dr. Mary Taylor Christian, educator, former state legislator, and humanitarian made her transition to be home with the Lord on Monday, November 11, 2019. She was 95 years old. Dr. Christian, affectionately known as “Mom Bootsie and Dr. C” was born in Hampton, Virginia on July 9, 1924 to the late John and Viola Robinson. She was the second of five children. Her humble beginnings started on Lincoln Street in Hampton where she shared a close bond with her parents and siblings. The family had a mutual love and respect for one another that was evident whenever they were together. She attended Union School and graduated in 1941 from Phenix High School on the campus of Hampton Institute, now Hampton University.
In the early years while raising three young children, Dr. Christian worked in a laundry room at Hampton University. Her determination to succeed and help provide for her family ignited a sincere desire to assist the underserved, and a passion to educate the next generation.
In 1955, Dr. Christian married her beloved Wilbur “Chuck” Christian. Their epic love story spans decades and is truly a testament that love does conquer all. The couple had perfect harmony as they sang together in the church choir, and their unbreakable bond and unfailing love for one another has withstood the test of time. Chuck is her biggest fan and has always been by her side.
Dr. Christian’s teaching career began as an elementary school teacher at Aberdeen Elementary School in Hampton. She later wore many distinguished “hats” including instructor and chairperson of the Department of Elementary Education at Hampton Institute, and Director of Special Education Programs for the State Department of Education and was a member of the Board of Trustees at Cornell University. She was the first black woman to serve on the Hampton School Board and was also named Dean of the School of Education at Hampton University and remained in that position until her retirement.
Dr. Christian received her Ph.D. in 1967 at Michigan State University with a major in Elementary Education and cognate in Special Education. Her M.A. was received from Columbia University in 1960 with a major in Speech and Drama. In 1955, Dr. Christian was awarded her B.S. degree from Hampton Institute (now Hampton University) with Highest Honors in Elementary Education.
Dr. Christian’s perseverance took her from the laundry room, to the classroom, and ultimately to the Virginia House of Delegates where she became the first African American woman to represent Virginia’s 92nd District since reconstruction. She served faithfully in her position as Delegate for nine consecutive terms and introduced legislation that paved the way for better education, healthcare, and other pressing issues important to her constituents.
Her service as a legacy member of the Executive Board of Directors for both the Patient Advocate Foundation (PAF) and National Patient Advocate Foundation (NPAF) for the past 23 years, resulted in more than 1.2 million patients with chronic, debilitating, and life-threatening illnesses being served. She also had a strong relationship with Thomas Nelson Community College in Hampton, where the performing arts auditorium is named in her honor.
In addition to her illustrious career, Dr. Christian loved to shop and buy things for her friends and family. She always had a “stash” somewhere in the house so whenever there was a birthday or special occasion, she could always pull out a nice gift to bless someone. She also enjoyed the Performing Arts, writing, and reciting poetry. More than anything Dr. Christian loved her family. Her children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, nieces, and nephews were her pride and joy. She often loved to show off their gifts, talents, and accomplishments to friends and colleagues.
Dr. Christian gave her life to the Lord Jesus Christ at an early age and was dedicated to serving Him with all her heart. She has been a lifetime member of First Baptist Church in Hampton and served in many capacities within the church. One of her favorite ministries was the liturgical dance.
Though Dr. Christian encountered several health challenges she continued to keep the faith and radiated a spirit of resilience. She would always bounce back and tell everyone “she was doing just fine.” She was selfless and always thought of others before herself. Our families, communities, and careers are stronger and better because of the great sacrifice and commitment she has made in the lives of others. Her legacy is unsurpassed, and she will be greatly missed by all who knew and loved her.
Dr. Christian leaves to cherish her memory her husband, Wilbur “Chuck” Christian: two daughters: Benita Toler (Garvis, Jr.) of Burke, VA and Carolyn Taylor of Hampton, VA; one sister: Madeline Lee (Richard, Sr.) of Camarillo, CA: daughter-in-love: Alease “Tootie” Taylor: nine grandchildren: Cheryl Smith (Alan), James Taylor (Anita), Ryan Taylor, Maria Velissaris (James), Darren Toler, Garvis Toler III, Steven Morris, Warnette Morris, and Angela Francis: ten great-grandchildren: Alan, II, James, Jr., Jordan, Garvis, IV, Grace, Anthony, Divine, Alecia, Du’Wuane, and Dezire: and a host of beloved nieces and nephews (including Henry and Darkesha whom she cared for and raised) relatives, special friends, and colleagues.
Dr. Christian was preceded in death by her parents, John and Viola Robinson; her son, James E. Taylor; her sisters, Viola Brown; Lillian Chatman; and her brother, John Robinson.
The family will receive guests from 5:00 p.m. until 7:00 p.m. Sunday, November 17, 2019 at First Baptist Church Hampton, 229 N. King Street Hampton, Virginia.
A Delta Sigma Theta, Omega Omega service will be held 10:00 a.m. Monday, November 18, 2019 at the Hampton University Convocation Center, 700 Emancipation Dr, Hampton, Virginia.
Services will be held 11:00 a.m. Monday, November 18, 2019 at the Hampton University Convocation Center by Dr. Richard Wills.
Interment will follow at the Hampton University Cemetery.
It is the desire of the Christian family that you keep them in your thoughts and prayers.
The family of the late Dr. Mary T. Christian has entrusted her final care to the staff at C.C. Carter Funeral Home, Inc.
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