Martha Anne Ferriss Parker, of Florence, Alabama, passed away unexpectedly on April 7, 2013. She was born October 29, 1926 in Shaw, Mississippi to William Douglas and Lellie Meadow Ferriss. She was a beloved wife, mother, grandmother, sister, and friend to so many. Martha Anne grew up in Shaw, Mississippi and graduated from Shaw High School, Class of 1944. She then attended Mississippi State College for Women, later known as Mississippi University for Women in Columbus, MS. She graduated in 1948. The Mississippi University for Women, was a pioneer in the Southeast region in encouraging, promoting, and sponsoring intercollegiate athletics for women in the early twentieth century and modern era.
A two sport star in high school, Martha Anne was the Mississippi Tennis State Champion, and won numerous other Mississippi titles in singles, doubles, and mixed doubles. She went on to an outstanding tennis career spanning 6 decades and has been inducted into both the Knoxville, Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame in 1993 and the Tennessee Tennis Hall of Fame in 2005.
Martha Anne was a nationally ranked tennis champion from age 40 through 75. In 1975 she won a gold medal in the Southern California Senior Olympics by winning the 45 singles title. A knee replacement enabled Martha Anne to rekindle her love and passion for tennis, she resumed playing and in 2008 was nationally ranked by USTA in 80+ (age) women’s doubles. According to many who knew her, “Martha Anne was just an outstanding athlete. If they would have had college sports for women when she came along, she would have been an All-American in tennis, basketball, softball or anything else she wanted to play.”
Before Martha Anne’s remarkable tennis career, she was a loving physical education teacher for many years in Mississippi, Louisiana, and Tennessee. Settling in Florence, Alabama in her later years, Martha Anne had a happy marriage for 64 years and was a devoted and caring wife. She adored her family and friends and her role in life as a loving mother and grandmother.
Martha Anne has always been an active member of her church and women of the church. She was a proud member of Kennedy-Douglass Center for the Arts. Martha Anne loved life, lived it to the fullest and was blessed to have touched and be touched by so many loving people.
Survived by husband Henry Lee Parker, long-time college football coach and also NFL scout and director of player personnel for the New Orleans Saints, daughters Susan Parker Rector and husband David Rector of Knoxville, TN, Kathryn Parker Roberts and husband Craig Roberts of Leawood, KS, grandchildren Melissa Rector Overton, Brian Wendell Rector and John Parker Rector, Nathan Craig Roberts, Ferriss Amelia Roberts, and Parker Annabel Roberts, Brother David “Boo” Ferriss, a Mississippi baseball legend inducted into the Boston Red Sox Hall of Fame and the American Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame, and wife Miriam Ferriss of Cleveland, MS, nieces and nephews. She is preceded in death by her parents and brother Will D. Ferriss and his wife Toni.
The family cannot thank enough people for their loving care and support, but wish to say a special thank you to Terry Anderson, Gail Morgan, Dr. Lyman Mitchell, Jamie and Bill McGuire, Tom and Mary White, and Georgia Osborne.
Visitation will be Friday, April 12, 9:30 am at the First Presbyterian Church, 224 East Mobile Street, Florence, Alabama, followed by a Memorial Service at 11:00 am. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to First Presbyterian Church, 224 East Mobile Street, Florence, Alabama 35630 or The French Camp Academy, One Fine Place, French Camp, MS 39745.
Elkins Funeral Home, Florence, is assisting the family.