property into Cody Villa, with its citrus groves and family compound, and true to their tradition, helped start the Babson Park Community Church as well as the Frostproof Presbyterian Church.

Here they were, Northerners living in the Jim Crow South growing oranges. Verily. the dreams of the fruit trees they nurtured in Nebraska and California finally became manifest. More about the Codys and Babson Park can be found in the Cody Publications 1990 printing of Louise Quinn's book "Crooked Lake-Babson Park Rediscovered".

Babson Park, is itself named for Roger W. Babson, a famous economist and business consultant of the day, who founded Babson Institute in 1919 on his reputation, and Webber College in 1927 with a land grant. He was from an old Yankee family of Gloucester, only a few miles from Ipswich and Beverly, in old Massachusetts. As a youth, Roger studied his family genealogy to better understand himself.


Babson Park

After searching through several states for a winter home, my father contacted his nephew, Luther Cody, son of his brother, Aldus. Luther and his wife, Josephine, a school teacher were living in Frost- proof, Florida, and they wrote enthusiastically of that area. Father, mother and I went by train to Ft. Meade, the nearest rail center, and  hired a carriage to drive us to Frostproof. Here our first Florida home was built and Father helped to establish a church (now the Frostproof Presbyterian Church) and gave the lot for the parsonage. He, despite his advanced years, helped build the plank walk up to the  door of the church.

From there he went out into the countryside and found one of  the few hilltop areas in all of central Florida, and bought what became "Cody Villa". This was for "Posterity", Father said. Here the  family home was built, with the constant blessing of Cousin Luther  "guiding the construction". From this hilltop, overlooking two  miles of Crooked Lake, the daily inspiration of the sunsets are a  tribute to father’s forethought.

One winter, fifty-one years ago, my mother approached father  about a church for the growing community of Babson Park. He  said, "Yes, Mother l have it in mind! You know in our married life,  wherever we lived, l started a church. l am waiting for Will and  Gertrude’s (l who write and my husband) arrival for the winter months." Mother was fond of my husband, and loved him for his gracious gentlemanly attitude and concern for her. Soon after our arrival she said, "Well, dear son, we want you to collect the money for  a church. We cannot raise a family here or help build a respectable community unless there is a church." Any request of Mother Cody was a command to my beloved husband.

Though he had come to Florida for a needed rest, he con- sented, saying to me when we returned to our cottage, "There goes my vacation and longed-for rest." He borrowed father’s car and went  from one new group of homes to another, to all the Fruit Packing plant managers, to the guests of the Hillcrest Lodge, the local  winter hotel, always spreading our Mother’s message, "We cannot  build  a  respectable  town   unless  we  have  a  church."   He


received cash and pledges. When he started out, my father handed him a long paper with his own pledge at the top. It, with his three sons’  contributions was for one-third of the amount needed for the first  building.

We heard about a retired minister who had built up several churches, and was now vacationing in Florida. Father sent for him to  come to visit our area. My husband’s solicitations brought the required amount of money to assure the church committee and the new  minister, Dr. William Rommel, that a church could be built. When  my mother passed away, Dr. William Rommel wrote of her, "She  was the Lord’s own. The Babson Park Church was in truth her work." I think it is important to quote Dr. Rommel’s letter about Mother  Cody. He wrote, "It was good of you to write me about your  beloved Mother and her leaving us for the Heavenly Home. While  none can take her place or exert her influence, yet her blessed memory abides as an inspiration and joy and admonition to us all to be  in the Master’s Service, diligently faithful. Words are too feeble to  convey the tribute, the esteem and admiration for this rare and radiant spirit, this elect lady, so modest and truly loyal to the end. How  quietly and persistantly she wrought for Christ and His Church. The Church at Babson Park is the fruit of her wise and gracious in- sistance. All that has been done through its Ministry finds its beginning  in the lovely and noble Mother Cody. I rejoice with her in  the  beautific vision of Saints in light."

The Church has been added to over the fifty years and in very  recent years there was dedicated a Fellowship HaII for church school rooms, church dinner affairs as well as for community gather- ings. I who write am the last one of my devout parent’s children to attend the services. My sister, Ethel, ninety-one years, who with her husband, "Dr. Sam," gave her life for work in India, passed to the Beyond, this last July 31, 1971. She phoned me from Florida to say "Stand by the Church". When she and Dr. Sam, each honored by the  Kaiser-i-Hind medals for service to India by the British Govern- ment, came to live in Babson Park, the Church was here to welcome them and appreciate their additional service. Twenty-four of the Cody  family who came to live here at various times gave their cooperation, strength and guidance for our Community Church. Some  were Elders, Deacons, Trustees, Sunday School Superintend- ents, servicing and giving financial support. Outstanding among the  workers was my brother, Frank who was Sunday School Super- intendent for over fifteen years.


That is how the church in Babson Park was established and was there ready for Sister Mary! When she came to the Babson Park  family home, "Cody Villa," she had fought a big fight to master tuberculosis. She lost the use of one lung, but she still had the will  power and energy to carry on and make her remaining years count. The Babson Park had been established and the trustees had purchased, on the road opposite the church grounds, an abandoned gas station. lt was in good condition with good plumbing facilities. Near  the church property a fruit packing factory had been built, beside  the railroad, where women worked from 8:30 to 4:00 P.M. They  had no place to leave their children, so with the backing of the church women and deacons, Mary equipped the large room of this "Annex" as they named it, for a kindergarten and day nursery, especially for the children of the factory working mothers. She put into  the project not only her free volunteer service, her genius and ability, but her own small income, and she solicited food from the  gentleman owner of the grocery store. The Hillcrest Lodge sent  the food left from the previous night’s dinner, carefully packed. As  I was leaving for the North, she came in and asked for my child- ren’s mattresses. "They will have outgrown them by the time you return", she said. One dear lady who loved to tell it to the end of her  days, sent a large tray of home-made cookies each day—"for the little army of wee folks". The factory mothers paid a small fee from  their  poor earnings. So we saw our frail, strong-willed sister, determined and saintly, build up a needed kindergarten and nursery.

Sister Mary not only maintained her Day Nursery and Kinder- garten in the Church "Annex", but on Sundays, she had persuaded a  committee of deacons to pile up the mattresses and most of the tables there, so that she could teach the primary and beginners Sunday School Classes. She believed that little children from two to six  years   absorb   a   great   deal   from   attending  part  of  the  Church  Service
—observing the reverence, joining the hymn singing and hearing the choir. So each Sunday she gathered her ten to twenty or more children  and talked to them about going reverently into God’s House.  As soon as she left them out of the Annex, on many occa- sions, they broke ranks and flew in every direction like chickens let  out  of  a coop. lt was really a funny sight to see her running after  them with arms outstretched, almost as though she wished she  were a Hindu goddess with numerous pairs of arms. But by the  time she reached the porch steps, they remembered instructions and the devilment seemed to vanish. They marched sedately two by  two to the front seats kept for them and began their "absorption". Meanwhile, lovely "Miss Mary", her hat askew, with red face, followed  them  in.    There  were   many   admiring   glances   from   the


audience as grandmothers and parents saw their sedate children coming for that first meaningful part of the "grown up" service. They  marched out looking like angelic cherubs until they saw the lawn  and their chance to summersalt! Mary understood. My sister was  known all over that area as "Miss Mary". Older people re- member  sending their children to her, even today.

She had a small Ford car to get back and forth from Cody Villa  to church and town. Usually, she went to the store quite early  for  groceries before it was time to open school. One morning I  said, "Let me go for you and you rest a bit before your busy day." She consented. When l came out with my bag of groceries, the car was  filled with four big negroes. l said, "l’m afraid you have the wrong  car. This is my car." Promptly the reply came, "Ain’t this Miss  Mayee’s Cayar? (broad Georgia accent)" “’Yes, this is Miss Mary’s  car".   "Well,  Miss  Mayee,  she  aless  done  tote  us  to  Cody
Villa—eberry mownin’." So l drove off packed in with four big negroes.  I  thought they must work on our groves. They all piled out  at  the gate and to my amazement headed to the neighboring Carson groves. When l remonstrated with Mary for being a taxi, she  said, "Well, they needed a ride, didn’t they?" Friend or foe got  the  same treatment wherever she served. Mary spent over twelve productive years in Babson Park before she passed away.

Do you, my readers, know what it means to live as a child with  a  dear person, know her through her letters, first reading them when she was alive, and writing from far away lands, and next follow- ing her life seventy years later and feeling again the reality of the writer’s contribution to students and little children? l was glad that my  family was a letter-keeping one—even though the boxes and strings around bundles were broken open.

Mary Cody passed away May 8, 1946, Cody Villa, Babson Park,  and was buried in Lake Wales Cemetery May 18. She would want me to thank the Women’s Foreign Missionary Society of the Methodist Church for having maintained her as one of their Mission- aries, and to give special thanks to Bishop Thoburn and others who showed their confidence in her by sending her to stations of great need  and especially asking her to do the difficult tasks of substitut- ing  for missionaries on furlough.

lf one can say thank you to fading letters, while reading with dim  eyes, l want to say my thank you to her for the way she helped us raise our three children, for being a second mother to me as a small child  and  for  her  outpouring  confidential  letters  when  her  burdens


became staggering. Thank you, Mary, for your confidence in me. Your  letters enriched my life."

Mary’s life was as if she carried a bag of seeds of beauty, forever tossing them out into the eager soil of other’s lives. She knew  all sowing is inevitable. There is no moment in which seed is  not scattered, even by the most careless people. For good or ill, for  higher for lower, toward faith or toward degeneration, the seed givers are influencing other lives by sharing the spirit of their lives. Mary and many of this devout section of the Cody tribe planted love and devotion to great causes in the world. Mary was very conscious of  this in the nature of her pioneering work and in her kindergarten teaching attitude—it’s Christian idealism. ln all her contacts with the  students she trained and the little people of Asia and America that  she taught, she spread this idea of the power to plant love, and  she knew that love would not die. She passed on the "dower" of  her whole life to all those she trained and touched. That Miracle of  Godliness was hers.


The International Cody Family Association