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Mabel "May" Martha (Martin) Reisz

December 13, 1934 ~ May 23, 2019 (age 84)


Mabel (“May”) Martha (Martin) Reisz, age 84, of Sun City, Bluffton, South Carolina died on May 23, 2019 at home with her husband, Fred, and her daughter, Katherine, by her side. She tenaciously fought lobular breast cancer for six years, including participating in a clinical trial, before succumbing to it. 

As a professional artist, May captured the farmlands of her Pennsylvania youth, the ocean and marshes she loved, and evocative abstract works in paint and handmade paper mediums. She also designed glorious liturgical stained-glass windows and banners. May won awards in the South Carolina and Southern Watercolor Societies, as well as Best of Show in the 1995 South Carolina State Fair Fine Arts Competition. She had one-woman shows at The University of South Carolina at Sumter (2003) and City Art gallery in Columbia, SC (2006).

Over four decades May taught art in public schools, as well as at Lesley College, Wittenberg University, and North Eastern Illinois University. In 1964 she pioneered the teaching of art through TV broadcast into public school classrooms in Hagerstown, MD.

In addition to her two daughters, May “mothered” generations of college and graduate students at University of Chicago, Penn State, University Lutheran Church in Cambridge, MA, and the Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary in Columbia, SC.

May was born on December 13, 1934 in Erie, PA, the daughter of the late Vernon Theodore and Martha Matilda (Paterson) Martin. May graduated from Academy High School, and got her B.A. degree from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania State University, Edinboro, PA and her M.A, in Studio Art and Art History from Pennsylvania State University, State College, PA with additional studies in art education at Harvard University Graduate School of Education. 

She was married on June 6, 1965 to the Rev. Dr. H. Frederick Reisz, Jr. Ph.D., President Emeritus of Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary, Columbia, SC. They moved to Bluffton, SC in 2006.

May’s art works are included in national and international private and corporate collections including Raytheon, Gillette, the Ministry of Cultural Affairs in Ottawa, Canada, the Aiken South Carolina Art Center, the Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary in, Columbia, SC and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America in Chicago. Her art has been included in the NBSC Oil Painters Invitational Exhibit, Carolina Foothills Artisan Center in Chesnee, SC. In 2001, one of her paintings was included in the South Carolina Department of Agriculture calendar. 

She was preceded in death by her beloved daughter Heather Lynn Reisz (2013). 

May is survived by her daughter, Lisa Katherine Reisz-Hanson (Chris) of Arlington, MA; and her grandchildren: Benjamin Reisz-Hanson, and Isabel Reisz-Hanson, along with ten nieces and nephews, and their children.

After cremation, memorial services will be held on Wednesday, June 5, 11:00 a.m. at Lord of Life Lutheran Church, 351 Buckwalter Parkway, Bluffton, SC, and on Friday, June 7 at 1:00 p.m. in Christ Chapel, Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary, 4201 North Main Street, Columbia, SC.

Memorial contributions may be made to The May and Fred Reisz Endowment for the Fine Arts at Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary, 4201 North Main Street, Columbia, SC  29203

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