In Memoriam: Mart Gayland Pool ‘62

The Rev. Mart Gayland Pool, 80, Class of 1962, died Monday, December 11, in the arms of his wife, Katie Sherrod.  The funeral will be at 1 pm on Friday, December 15, at Trinity Episcopal Church, 3401 Bellaire Drive So., Ft. Worth, TX 76109. The Rev. Karen Calafat will celebrate, the Rev. Bruce Coggin will preach.

Gayland was born April 23, 1937, in Plainview, TX, where his father, Mart Pool, was a hotel manager and community leader. His brother, Larry, was born in Ada, Oklahoma, when Mart was managing a hotel there. The family then returned to Plainview where his father managed the Hilton Hotel. The fact that Gayland lived his most formative years in hotels may help explain his love of playing host.

The Pools were Presbyterians and Gayland went to Presbyterian church camp each summer. He graduated from Texas Tech in Lubbock with a degree in history, but was pulled toward the ministry. He went off to Union Seminary in New York City as a Presbyterian. He served First Presbyterian in Spur for two summers as a student pastor. In July of his second summer at Spur, when he was 23, his father died suddenly. 

After his first year at Union, he became an Episcopalian and transferred to General Seminary. He was ordained a deacon on April 27, 1962, by Bishop George Quarterman, bishop of the Diocese of Northwest Texas, in St. Christopher Episcopal Church in Lubbock. He was ordained a priest on November 30, 1962, by Quarterman at St. Mary’s, Big Spring, where he was curate.
He then became assistant chaplain at St. Mark’s School in Dallas and curate at St. Luke’s, Dallas. In 1966, he spent one year as the Canterbury Chaplain at SMU, and in 1967, he moved to Fort Worth to be Canterbury Chaplain at TCU. 

In his seven years at TCU, Canterbury went from having less than 10 students to having more than 100 show up for Wednesday dinners. The students called him Super Priest. While he was at TCU some life-changing events happened. His mother, Mattie, was living with him while she dealt with terminal cancer. After a visit, his brother Larry, sister-in-law Ginger and his two nephews, first-grader Jeffrey and baby David, left to drive home to Plainview. In avoiding a drunken driver making an illegal U-turn, their car flipped into a deep culvert. Larry and Jeffrey were killed, Ginger badly injured. Baby David survived in his infant seat.

Mattie died nine months later. Driving home from his mother’s funeral in Plainview, Gayland was overcome with grief and rage. Pulling over to the side the road, he realized he could either let the grief devour him, or he could resolve to let happiness, care, and hospitality to define his life. He knew he could best honor his lost loved ones by being a happy person. But these losses informed his ministry from that point on, making pastoral care a main focus. The teachings of Dr. Paul Lehman at Union that we need to continue what God is doing in the world “to make and keep human life human” became formative for him.

Back at TCU, the Vietnam War was going on, as was the national debate over our nation’s involvement in that war. Never one to shrink from controversy, Gayland marched in anti-war protests in downtown Fort Worth and sponsored speakers such as Jane Fonda, David Harris and comedian Dick Gregory. TCU refused to have Fonda on campus, so they moved that event to UTA. And when the City of Fort Worth refused to let rock concerts continue at Trinity Park, Canterbury sponsored them at TCU. 

After seven years at TCU, Gayland was called to be rector of Christ the King Episcopal Church. Under Gayland’s leadership, they moved a charming old country church onto the Christ the King property on Lackland Road. It arrived in several pieces in December, 1975 and opened for the first service on July 4, 1976, as part of the Bicentennial Celebration in Fort Worth. When Gayland left in 1980, all the debt was retired, Christ the King had three Sunday services, and an average Sunday attendance of 200. 

While he was at TCU, Gayland had arranged for interfaith groups of chaplains to study in Cuernavaca, Mexico. After a 1978 sabbatical there, he left Christ the King to become rector at St. Michaels and All Angels in Cuernavaca. He was there two years and then worked two more years as assistant to the Rt. Rev. Jose Guadalupe Saucedo, bishop of Central and South Mexico. He also became fluent in Spanish.

In 1985, he returned to the United States and accepted a call to St. Luke’s in the Meadow, Fort Worth. He spent the next five years at St. Luke’s, after which he accepted a job as executive director at Tarrant Area Community of Churches. And he got married.

He first met his wife, Katie Sherrod, when she was a reporter for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram sent to TCU to report on what this “controversial priest” was doing. They met again after she became an Episcopalian in the late 1980s. To their mutual astonishment, they fell in love and got married in 1991.

After Gayland left the Tarrant Area Community of Churches, he briefly became interim rector at Christ the King, and then opened the Market on Montgomery, a restaurant and gallery. He served on the Executive Council of Associated Parishes for Liturgy and Mission as well as taking a number of groups on trips to Israel. His love of travel caused him to become a travel agent. He continued his ministry with services at All Saints’ Episcopal Church and All Saints Hospital. 

He served as an interim priest at St. Paul’s Oak Cliff, Dallas, for two years and served four years at Holy Trinity, Rockwall/Heath, and then a second time at St. Paul’s. After that, he began assisting at various continuing congregations in the reorganized Diocese of Fort Worth.

One of the gifts that marriage brought to Gayland was another extended family in addition to all the Pools to whom he is related. He married into the large Sherrod family, which includes Katie Sherrod’s daughter, Daniella Judge, and eventually, two wonderful grandsons. Gayland became “Da” – the most indulgent grandfather on the planet. 

He was preceded in death by his parents, Mart and Mattie Pool, by his brother, Larry, his nephew, Jeffrey, and his sister-in-law, Ginger Pool. He is survived by his wife, Katie Sherrod; his step daughter, Daniella Judge; and his two grandsons, Curran and Gavin Judge; his nephew, David Pool and his wife Vel Pool; his great niece Courtnie Pool Wise; his great nephews, Jeffrey, Matthew, and Jack Pool; along with various in-laws, numerous cousins, and wonderful great nieces and nephews.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to St. Luke’s in the Meadow Episcopal Church, 4301 Meadowbrook Drive, Fort Worth, TX, 76103; Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas, 7424 Greenville Ave., Dallas, TX, 75231, or the Humane Society of North Texas, attn: Donor Services, 1840 E. Lancaster Ave., Fort Worth, TX, 76103.