Catherine Marshall
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Christian Author Catherine Marshall's Mother Inspired the Book and TV Series 'Christy'


Christy, an hour-long CBS television series that ran for two seasons in 1994-'95, deserves consideration as one of the best family-friendly shows since The Waltons and Little House on the Prairie's heydays. It was based on a popular 1967 novel by Catherine Marshall.

Kellie Martin starred as Christy Huddleston, a teacher in the fictitious town of Cutter Gap, Tennessee. The story's set in 1912, and it explores Appalachian mountain people's faith, traditions and superstitions in a non-condescending way. There's also a love triangle, with the title character catching the eyes of both a minister and a doctor.

The series abruptly ended without either man winning Christy's hand. An early aughts TV mini-series on the Pax network righted this wrong, finishing a semi-autobiographical story about Catherine's mother, Leonora Whitaker, and her experiences as a teacher in the Smoky Mountains.

Martin's supporting cast included Tyne Daly, an Emmy winner for her role as Quaker missionary Alice Henderson.


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American author Catherine Marshall was born on Sept. 27, 1914 in Johnson City, Tennessee. At risk of spoiling a decades-old show, her dad was a minister named John Ambrose Wood.

While attending Agnes Scott College in Atlanta, the future author met her husband, Peter Marshall.


After getting married in 1936, the couple moved to Washington DC, where Peter worked as a Presbyterian minister and chaplain of the United States Senate.

Peter died from a heart attack in 1949, leaving his widow to raise their son, future minister and author Peter John Marshall.

Catherine's first book, 1951's A Man Called Peter, told her late husband's life story. It spent an absurd 170 weeks on the New York Times Bestseller's List and inspired an Oscar-nominated film.

The biography's success inspired Catherine to pursue a writing career. Her work includes everything from edited collections of Peter's sermons (Mr. Jones, Meet the Master) to her own scriptural deep dive, The Helper, and a book written to help other young widows, To Live Again.


Catherine married longtime Guideposts Magazine editor Leonard Lesourd in 1959. The couple had its own book imprint, Chosen Books.

Catherine died on March 18, 1983 in Boynton Beach, Florida. She's buried next to her first husband.

Through it all, her work ethic and the quality of her writing lived up to one of the more memorable quotes in Christy.

"A Christian has no business being satisfied with mediocrity," Catherine wrote. "He's supposed to reach for the stars. Why not? He's not on his own anymore. He has God's help now."


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