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Martha Louise (Purdy) BehrensJuly 15, 1924 ~ April 20, 2017 (age 92)
Martha Louise Purdy Behrens passed away on Thursday, April 20, in Dallas, TX. A nearly 40-year resident of Troy, Martha had moved to Texas five years ago to live with her daughter, Susan Cole, and to be near her son, Jay Behrens. She was well-known in Southwestern Ohio as a result of her leadership roles in state and local church organizations.
A celebration of her life will be held in Troy on Saturday, July 15, which would have been her 93rd birthday.
The daughter of Presbyterian missionaries, Martha was born in the city of Chungju, in the Japanese-occupied Korean Empire. After the death of her father, she returned to the United States, was raised in Titusville, PA, and graduated from The College of Wooster. In 1949, she married the Rev. Robert E. Behrens, and began a career as not only a mother and homemaker but as an active supporter of The United Church of Christ and of associated women’s organizations.
Martha moved to Troy in 1974, when her husband became the pastor of First United Church of Christ (UCC). Her church-related activities are too numerous to detail, but included serving as chairperson of the World Day of Prayer in the 1970s and the presidency of the Troy unit of Church Women United (CWU) in the 1980s and 1990s. In addition, she served on the Southwest Ohio Association of the UCC Clergy Department and on the Department of Church in the World.
Martha received national recognition when she was honored as a “Valiant Woman” by Church Women United. This award is given to those who have given service to CWU, to their own churches and to their communities for an extended period of time—and are women who, perhaps in a quiet way, live the gospel message in their everyday lives. At the time, a representative of the national ecumenical Christian organization described her as “a very dedicated person whose service has truly been that of a valiant woman.”
In Troy, she was also an active member of PEO and Garden Club for many years.
Martha was predeceased by her husband, who passed away in 1986. In addition to children Susan and Jay, she is survived by daughters Kathy Behrens Neff of Cape Coral, FL and Barbara Behrens of Merrick NY. She had 11 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. She greatly enjoyed family visits to her home in Troy and hosted several family reunions.
A celebration of Martha’s life will be held at 2:00pm on Saturday, July 15, 2017 at Baird Funeral Home, 555 North Market Street, in Troy. Viewing hours will immediately precede the service. Donations in Martha’s honor can be made to Church Women United, or to any charity promoting peace and understanding through the Word of God.
Church Women United, c/o First United Church of Christ
120 S. Market Street, Troy OH 45373
Any charity promoting peace and understanding through the Word of God.