Rites Saturday for 'Ma' Sunday

Funeral services for Mrs. Billy "Ma" Sunday, 88 widow of the late famed evangelist and president of the Winona Lake Christian Assembly, will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday in the First Presbyterian church at Winona.

The pastor, Rev. Franklin W. May, will be in charge of the rites which will include tributes from Dr. Alva J. McClain, president of Grace Theological seminary, Winona Lake, representing the Assembly, Dr. J. Palmer Muntz, of Buffalo, N.Y., director of the Bible conference, and Dr. Bob Jones, Jr., of Greenville, S.C.

Mrs. Sunday, who died of lung cancer and a heart ailment Wednesday at the home of a grandson, Paul Haines, in Phoenix, Ariz., will be buried in Forest Home cemetery in Chicago, next to her husband, the world famous evangelist.

Arrives Tonight
Her body arrives in Indianapolis by plane at 11:10 tonight. It will be taken to Landis funeral home where friends will be received after noon Friday.

Mrs. Sunday went to Arizona early in December to spend the winter with her grandson Paul, an advertising executive in Phoenix. Another grandson, George Sunday, of Chicago, joined the family for Christmas. "Ma" wrote friends back her that she had a very enjoyable holiday season.

Shortly afterward, however, she began finding it difficult to breathe and was taken to Good Samaritan hospital. There specialists told her that her lungs had solidified and she had only a short time to live.

She accepted the verdict with the same indomitable courage that characterized her entire life, elected to return to the Haines' home. Paul Haines told reporters his grandmother had been in critical condition for five weeks, lapsed into a coma four days ago and never regained consciousness.

Only a week before her death, Rev. John Andrews, executive manager of the Assembly, visited Ma Sunday. Her mind was clear and she received his report on the new post office at Winona and other projects with interest and approbation.

Born in Illinois
Mrs. Sunday was born at Dundee, Ill., June 25, 1868, the daughter of William and Ellen Thompson, natives of Scotland. She was named Helen Amelia but her family called her Nell or Nellie. Dundee was founded by Scots and their names still predominate in the city directory. The town is at the northwest edge of Chicago.

Her father was a dairyman and ice cream manufacturer and a staunch Presbyterian. His younger son, William Jr., was the mascot and bat boy for the Chicago Whitestockings on which Billy Sunday was an outfielder. Daughter Helen was an ardent worker in the Christian Endeavor and a Sunday school teacher in the Jefferson Park Presbyterian church, located near the Whitestockings' ball part.

It is said that the couple first met in 1885 when Billy began attending the church. Father Thompson, however, did not look with favor on his daughter's friendship with a professional ball player who worked as a locomotive fireman during the winter.

Encourages Billy
Even after Billy was converted at the Pacific Garden Mission in Chicago, changed his manner of living and thinking and joined the church, it took almost two more years to win his bride. Nell helped him get started in religious work such as addressing YMCA and Christian Endeavor groups.

She also encouraged him to enroll one winter as a special student in Evanston Academy, a preparatory school run by Northwestern university. The course he liked best was one in rhetoric under Dean Cumnock, of the school of oratory.

Billy and Nell were married Sept. 5, 1888, took a honeymoon trip through the west. He continued to play baseball two more years, transferring first to the Pittsburgh team, later to Philadelphia. Nell occasionally traveled with him.

Turns Down $500
On March 17, 1891 Billy got his release from the Eastern team, turned down a $500 a month offer to play at Cincinnati to take a fulltime job with the Chicago YMCA. His pay was $83.33 per month. Mrs. Sunday often reminisced proudly about their struggle to make ends meet during the depression of 1893.

Billy was offered a chance to assist Dr. J. Wilbur Chapman in conducting revival meetings. Dr. Chapman became Billy's closest friend, and encouraged him to strike out on his own in 1895. Dr. Chapman is remembered as the "Father of the Winona Bible Conference." Billy Sunday and his family began spending part of each summer vacation at Winona in 1900, built a home and moved here from Chicago in 1910.

Long before, he had become world famous for his dynamic evangelistic rallies and supreme in his own province of preaching. During his career he conducted over 300 revivals, spoke to more than 100 million people and brought more than 1 million down "the sawdust trail."

His wife shared in his work, handled major business decisions. The Sundays were guests in the White House, and great men of the day were their friends. They helped make Winona Lake famous, were active in support of the Assembly and Bible Conference.

After Billy's death, November 6, 1935, his widow, reluctantly at first and then with confidence that she was following God's plan, accepted calls to speak at religious meetings, drawing capacity crowds in cities from coast to coast. She once estimated that she had probably traveled close to a million miles.

Funeral director Paul Landis said that friends will be received on Saturday from 9 a.m. until 10 a.m. at the Winona church. Members of the Winona Literary Society, of which Mrs. Sunday was an honorary member will meet at the church at 9:45 a.m.. They will sit together in a section reserved for them.

Mrs. Sunday is survived by two grandsons, Paul Haines, of Phoenix, and George Sunday, of Chicago; two nieces, Ruth Campbell, of Wilkes-Barre, Pa., and Mrs. Douglas Weart, of Chicago; a nephew, Fred Campbell, of Wheaton, Ill., and one great grandchild.

Warsaw Times-Union Thursday, February 21, 1957, pages 1 & 2

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