Mary Frances Fickett

August 15, 1918November 10, 2017
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On Friday, November 10, 2017, Mrs. Mary Frances Fickett, a native of Nacogdoches, passed away peacefully in Houston, Texas, at 99 years of age.

She was the wife of the renowned Baptist minister, Dr. Harold L. Fickett, Jr. Together, they built thriving congregations in Brownsville, Texas, Coatesville, Pennsylvania, Pomona, California, and Boston, Massachusetts, before assuming the pastorate at The First Baptist Church in Van Nuys, California. At one time, Van Nuys Baptist was the largest congregation west of Texas, with 12,000 members.

Dr. Fickett later became President of Barrington, College in Barrington, Rhode, Island, before returning (with a good deal of urging by his wife) to the Los Angeles area, where he held another pastorate at Rocky Peak before retiring.

Through speaking engagements, Dr. & Mrs. Fickett’s witness to the Gospel spread to the Far East, particularly South Korea and the Philippines, and behind the Iron Curtain in the former Soviet Union. Their churches placed a particular emphasis on supporting missionaries all over the world.

While raising a family of three strong-minded children, Mary, Ruth, and Harold III, Mrs. Fickett remained “always ready to go” wherever the Lord called.

The marriage of Dr. and Mrs. Fickett possessed a rare unity of mind and spirit that flowed from their deep love for one another.

Mrs. Fickett did not seek attention for herself but embraced her role as her husband’s helpmeet unconditionally. Her steadfast will helped carry her sometimes-mercurial husband through the many challenges Christian ministry presents. Only intimates realized how “Mary Frances” supplied much of the backbone for Dr. Fickett’s public role.

She relished becoming friends with the many people her vocation brought into her life. Known for her remarkable kindness, she believed that her happiness lay in serving others. She proved that principle every day of her exceptional life.

Jesus says, “If you love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15). Mrs. Fickett did just that. Her family is comforted in the knowledge that untold numbers of people welcomed her into heaven grateful for her role in their salvation. But first to greet her musts surely have been her Harold.

A graduate of Stephen F. Austin State University, where she was named among the “most influential seniors,” she met her future husband during the summer of 1939, when he served as interim minister at The First Baptist Church of Nacogdoches.

After their whirlwind life, the couple returned to Nacogdoches in retirement, providing care for Mrs. Fickett’s mother, Mrs. Lorene Dorsey, who died at 103 years of age. Mrs. Fickett’s life exemplified the adage: “If you know where you come from, you can go anywhere.” She loved her hometown, constantly returning over the years.

Mrs. Mary Frances Fickett is survived by her three children, Mary Fickett Tinsley of Houston, Texas, Ruth Fickett Ranes and husband, Richard, of Montgomery, Texas, and Harold L. Fickett, III and wife, Karen of Atlanta, Georgia; grandchildren, Ann Tinsley Bilello and husband, Brian, Sara Tinsley Ratliff and husband, Joe, Kirsten Ranes Freed and husband, John, Tyson Ranes and wife, Stephanie, Justin Ranes and wife, Kara, Hal Fickett and wife, Gina and Will and Eve Fickett; great grandchildren, Thomas and Tinsley Bilello, Elle and Emme Ratliff, Dallas, Madison and Johnny Freed, Judah Ranes, Presley Ranes and Elijah Fickett.

A memorial service will be held at 11:00 a.m. Wednesday, November 15, 2017, at First Baptist Church in Nacogdoches officiated by Pastor Emeritus Dr. Allen Reed. Graveside service will follow at Sunset Memorial Park.

Friends and family are invited to visitation from 5:00 – 7:00 p.m. Tuesday, November 14, 2017, at Cason Monk-Metcalf. Online condolences may be left at

Arrangements are under the direction of Cason Monk-Metcalf Funeral Directors, located at 5400 North Street in Nacogdoches.


  • Visitation

    Tuesday, November 14, 2017

  • Memorial Service

    Wednesday, November 15, 2017


Mary Frances Fickett

have a memory or condolence to add?

Craig West

December 5, 2017

The entire church family helped design my entire life and beliefs I uphold with fervor today. God bless the Fickett family for what you all meant to me and my family.

Eternally RIP in God's arms.

Ermie Obien

November 21, 2017

My memories...precious memories abound of Mary Francis and "Preach". Life changing is an understatement for me personally and spiritually! In her, Philippians 1:20-21 are verses that come alive.
To God be the Glory Forever and Ever! Amen & Amen!!!

Tom Shedd

November 21, 2017

Dr. and Mrs. Fickett were incredibly influential in my life, along with Dr. Gustafson, in directing me toward full-time ministry as my career. When I was 8 years old I walked into the office and asked to speak with Dr. Fickett. I wanted to be baptized but my father wanted me to wait until I was 12. Dr. Fickett agreed with my father. What amazes me now is that he dropped everything he was doing at the moment to receive an 8 year old into his office. When I was in college, I mentioned to him that my dad had semi-retired and was looking for handyman work, and had asked me, "I wonder if they need help at the church?". Again I met Dr. Fickett in his office and he told me, "we'll make a job for him". So for the next 7 years, although an unbeliever, he worked alongside some of the most godly men I knew - Jerry Fox, for one - and later expressed faith in Christ. Dr. and Mrs. Fickett were always the example of what it means to be a Christian to me, and I have continued to try and follow their example in living for the Kingdom of God.