A “Crooked” Straight And His Lovely Wife

Warren F. Kenney

My wife and I often speak of wonderful people we would not know if we were not members of the church. It reminds us of the fact that the church is a family, a wonderful family. It will cause precious memories to flood your soul.

It was August, 1989, when our earthly belongings were packed into a large moving van for the trek from Centralia, Illinois, to the eastern panhandle to work with the church in Martinsburg. We soon found that we were working with quality people in a great congregation

Among those quality people was a couple named F. M. “Pete” and Mary Straight. When we arrived on the scene, Pete was teaching the adult Bible class on Sunday morning and continued in that capacity as long as his health allowed. He preferred the verse-by-verse lecture style of teaching. I realize that style is “out of style” with some, but it is one of the best ways to learn for those who truly listen. Pete would really fill your bucket if you paid attention. Even when Pete’s mind began to slip, he still was very capable and true to the book. Although he passed from this life September 1, 1996, the good effects of Pete’s teaching still live on in the lives of those he taught.

There are many interesting things about Pete’s life, more than I can mention in this article. Let me list just a scant few.

Pete lived the Biblical work ethic. To watch him work was a treat. Pete was not particularly fast, but he made every move count. He could work many younger men, including me, into the ground.

He served this nation in World War II and in Korea. He was a prisoner of war in Germany and Poland for 2 ½ years. He told me he was a “guest” of Adolph Hitler.

Pete received the “Purple Heart” and the “Distinguished Service Cross.” The latter is our nation’s second highest honor.

One of the wisest things Pete ever did occurred on June 21, 1945. On that day, a beautiful young Christian lady, Mary R. Robinson, took her place at his side for life. To that union were born three daughters: Janet, Karen, and Ann. These gave them the opportunity to become adored parents and grandparents. A very short time with them showed how they relished that role.

On January 16, 1948, Pete obeyed the gospel in Richmond, Virginia. The fact that this was only 2 ½ years after he married Mary speaks volumes about her godly example. Side by side, they served the Lord faithfully for over 48 years. Mary remained faithful until her death on May 22, 2008. We laid her frail body beside Pete’s a few days later in Shenandoah Memorial Park in Winchester, Virginia. We did so in sorrow, but also rejoicing in the hope of the better resurrection that awaits the faithful.

Pete and Mary made many sacrifices to establish and strengthen the church in the Northern Shenandoah Valley and beyond. This involved his serving as an elder, preacher, teacher, and in many other capacities. The church owes them a great debt of gratitude.

I had the distinct honor of speaking at both of their memorial services. At Mary’s service, I did my very best to impress upon the many who assembled that we stand upon the shoulders of giants and warm ourselves by fires we did not build. I would to God that He would raise up many more servants like Pete and Mary Straight, but wonder if we shall see the likes of them again.

When my son met Pete the first time, he walked up to David and said, “My name is Pete Crooked.” He then smiled and said, “It’s actually Straight, and now you won’t forget it.” Forget? None of us are likely to forget such a wonderful couple who made such an impact for good in the lives they touched.

I read the following poem at Pete’s funeral. I close with it in adapted form here. –90 Waverly Court, Martinsburg, WV 25403.

Return to West Virginia Christian