Walter and Maedele Roley
Shortly before he came home from the war, Walter Roley wrote a very special letter to Maedele Birdwell. He proposed to her, and he asked her to find "a pretty little church" for their wedding. Walter and Maedele joined that "pretty little church" – Madison Square Presbyterian – and were married in the sanctuary on June 20, 1945. Their long and always loving marriage, and their long and always ardent discipleship as members of Madison Square, had begun.
Walter's career after the war was in civil service at Ft. Sam Houston. He was an avid gardener, growing camellias and providing corsages for church members each year. Maedele was a life-long teacher, actively involved in education until she was no longer physically able to get around. She taught Home Economics in the San Antonio School District for 48 years; after retirement, she continued to be an educator, teaching art at the Institute of Lifetime Learning. Maedele's own painting of Madison Square Presbyterian Church is hanging in the church parlor.
Constant companions, they were; only death could part Maedele and Walter. And not even death could part them for long. Walter died on April 7, 1993; Maedele died a brief two years later, on September 3, 1995. Had she lived until December, she would have been 100 years old.
When Maedele's will was read, the Session of Madison Square Presbyterian Church discovered that the church was the beneficiary of half of her estate. Deeply grateful for her gift, the Session sought a way to honor the faithfulness which was at the heart of the gift and at the heart of the Roleys' lives. We remembered that, while the Roleys never had children of their own, Maedele's students became "our children." It seemed obvious to the Session: a program related to education would be an appropriate way to honor the lives and the discipleship of the Roleys. Hence, in 1997 the Session used part of Maedele's gift to create a fund to provide an annual series of lectures by distinguished scholars.
The Roley Lectures are designed to benefit not only church members but also the wider San Antonio community. It is our belief that this "educational endeavor" would have excited the enthusiastic support of both Walter and Maedele Roley. Donations to augment the Roley Fund are welcomed and gratefully received.