Inspired by a neighbor, Mary Stone of Harker Heights wrote a song about a mom obeying orders and leaving her kids behind with Dad to serve her country in Iraq.
When Stone heard about a Fort Hood officer, Maj. Serelda Ledel Herbin, who won a singing competition called “Up and Rising Stars,” she asked the officer to listen to her song.
After hearing the words, Herbin agreed to record it. “That is my song, ‘Major Mom,’” she said.
Herbin, who is stationed in Washington, D.C., recently sang the national anthem at the White House after being assigned to sing for special White House events. Now, Stone dreams about her song being performed some day at the White House.
Stone has diverse talents. Besides being a songwriter, she’s also a writer, quilter, painter and licensed minister.
Born in Oklahoma in 1933, Stone grew up dreaming of marriage and motherhood. At 17, she visited Mount View, Okla., where she met Bill Baxter, an Army soldier preparing for service in Korea. She and Bill married in 1952 and stationed in El Paso in 1957. After a stint in Alaska, the couple moved to “The Great Place,” Fort Hood, in 1965.
Stone understands military wives.
“I feel the wives are a special breed,” she said. “They learn to be strong when the spouse is away, having to take charge of everything concerning the household.”
In the 1960s, Stone began to experiment with painting. She painted on canvas at first and then a friend asked her to paint a scene on a saw blade. That quickly became her new artistic avenue. She was also an avid quilter and created many masterpieces.
Stone was a faithful churchgoer and became a licensed minister. She served the women’s ministries department at First Assembly of God in Killeen for many years.
Lois Shugars of Belton, who has known Stone for 33 years, said Stone was an example to other ladies of the church of how to be a good wife and mother.
“I was in her women’s group and she was a real mentor to me,” she said. “She taught me how to serve God. I call her my spiritual mother.”
In those days, Stone enjoyed planning meetings, teaching and raising funds for church projects. But most of all, she enjoyed the people, she said.
After her husband died in 1996, Stone began writing her life story. Her first book, “Welcome to Mary’s World,” was published when she was 75. She has also written a short story about her life and enough poetry to fill a book.
Edna Roberts, a close friend, read Stone’s book and said she could not put it down until she finished. “She is an interesting and witty writer,” Roberts said. Stone chairs the local writers group that meets monthly in Harker Heights.
In 2004, a mutual friend introduced Mary and Charles Stone to each other. The two were married in 2006, and Stone wrote the song “Autumn” that was performed at their wedding ceremony.
The couple now attends New Beginnings Church in Harker Heights, where Mary Stone is often called on to perform stand-up comedy for special events.