Mary Agnes Bayless Barth
Mary Agnes Bayless Barth, age 89, died peacefully on December 13, 2022. Mary was born on September 10, 1933, in Athens, TN, to Marietta Spees Bayless Rogers and Richard Deakins Bayless. She graduated as valedictorian of McMinn County High School and attended the University of Chattanooga, where she was a member of Chi Omega Fraternity and the Alpha Society. At age 21, Mary began her post-graduate studies at Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania. Lack of access to classified secrets soon thwarted her doctoral thesis on the Spanish-American War.
God’s providence suddenly guided Mary back to Chattanooga in 1955, when Girls Preparatory School called in need of a college-preparatory history teacher. Thus began a teaching career that rewarded far more than a Ph.D. She married Theodore N. Barth, Jr., in 1958, and their life together took them to Maryville, TN, in 1960. In 1964 she was recruited by Andrew “Andy” Lamar Alexander, Sr., a Maryville School Board leader, to join the faculty of Maryville High School. For over 30 years, she advanced the education of many hundreds of high school scholars in the subjects of U.S. and World History, French, Self-Confidence, Accountability, Passion, Courage, Reasoning, Sacrifice, and Good Deeds. As an educator, Mrs. Barth was feared, funny, wacky, unpredictable, brilliant, and inspiring. Mary moved in retirement to Memphis in 2006 to enjoy her grandchildren. Mary was a cunning bridge player, an adequate cook, never dull, always erudite, and loving. Mary led a humble, thankful, joyful, and prayerful Christian life. Her spirit was renewed in worship and fellowship at Germantown Presbyterian Church and, in Maryville, at St. Andrews Episcopal Church.
In addition to her husband and parents, Mary was predeceased by her sister Reta Rogers Miller, her brother Clifford Spees Rogers, and two great-grandchildren. The family expresses sincere thanks to the staff of Belmont Village in Memphis for their loving care in her last year. Surviving to cherish her memory are Mary’s brother John R. Bayless, daughter Melissa Barth Ivy (Alex), grandson Thomas Ivy (Laurie Lee), granddaughter Grace Ivy Manore (Dan), and a great-grandchild Griffin Ivy. A memorial service will be held at Germantown Presbyterian Church on Saturday, January 7, 2023, at 11:00 a.m., following visitation at 10:00 a.m. Memorials may be sent to Germantown Presbyterian Church, Hutchison School, or the charity of the donor’s choice.