Remembering Foy E. Wallace, Sr. by Andy Erwin

Foy E. Wallace, Sr., was born June 2, 1871, at Decatur, Texas.  He was a great gospel preacher and defender of the ancient gospel.  He was known by many as the “Dean of Texas Ministers” when he died in 1949 (Gospel Guardian, December 1, 1949).

Early Preaching

 Brother Wallace began preaching at the age of twenty-one in the rural communities of East Texas.  He also did mission work in the Indian Territory in the early 1890s. Of this period, Gussie Lambert wrote:

“While there, near what became Mansville, Oklahoma, he made friends with the miners by greeting them as they entered and returned from the mines.  In those early days, religious prejudices were rife and tempers short. Freedom of speech was an ideal not understood or practiced. The strange doctrine of a pure gospel was a new thing not understood or respected. So, some of the men of the community resolved to ‘stop that preacher.’ The news leaked out that they intended to ride the preacher out of town on a rail. The miners got together and stood watch at the windows. When the men arose from the audience, with “throw the preacher out,” the miners replied, ‘sit down and let the man speak,’ and they backed up their authority with drawn pistols. Such was the temperament of the place and times” (Gussie Lambert, In Memoriam, pg. 282 ff.).

Debating

     His daughter, Willie, said that brother Wallace never issued a challenge for a debate, but never refused to defend the truth when challenged. She told of one such debate which occurred in 1910, while brother Wallace lived in Sherman, Texas.  He went to Oklahoma to meet a Baptist minister named Cagle in debate. When the debate was over, he sent a telegram home informing the family that he would remain for another week to hold a meeting.

     Later, during the week, he heard someone remark that Cagle was bragging about how he whipped him in the debate. Wallace remarked, “I baptized his moderator, his son-in-law, two of his elders, and many of his members, 19 in all. If he calls that victory, I am glad to concede it.” (Willie Wallace Speck, “I Remember My Dad.” Gospel Advocate, March 23, 1978).

Family

     On February 2, 1890, he married Martha Ann Higgins. To this union, nine children were born. Five boys: Cled, Foy Jr., Durward, Reba “R.E.” and Willie; four girls: Tempal, Ellafrank, Mattie Lee, and Guille.  On September 13, 1913, Martha Ann “Mattie” died after a prolonged illness.

     On October 8, 1914, he married Jewell Jacobs. Two sons, Paul and Tom, were born to this union.  “Mother Jewell” as she was known was very much beloved by the entire family.  Both Martha Ann and Jewell were laid to rest beside the grave of brother Wallace.

     Four of his sons became gospel preachers: Cled, Foy E., Jr., Paul, and Tom.

Later Years

     When Tom was the last child at home in the late 30s and early 40s, he believed that brother Wallace did some of his most successful work as a preacher.  Brother Wallace was between 65 and 75 during these years.  Tom credited this to his determination, and a backlog of experience and knowledge many men lay aside at that age.

     On a Sunday night, November 21, 1949, when word spread that Foy E. Wallace, Sr. was dying in a Tyler, Texas hospital, eleven sons and daughters rushed from various directions to be with him.  Some did not make it, but Guille, who did, arrived just before he lapsed into unconsciousness.  He looked at her and said, “Honey, I’m all right.”

     Wallace died November 21, 1949, at Tyler.  He is buried in the cemetery in Georgetown, Texas.