Muriel Fay McDowell Stensland was born at her family home in Mountainside, New Jersey, on her father’s birthday Friday, March 25, 1927 to Muriel Walton McDowell and Fay Bert McDowell. She died peacefully in her sleep on Saturday, October 5, 2019. She leaves behind loving husband, Ted Stensland, four children, Fay Harris, Cynthia Olmstead, Debbie Rider, and Bill Baikie; grandmother and great-grandmother to eight.
Muriel was married to her loving husband, Ted Stensland, in 1972. They moved from Albuquerque and settled in the village of Chama, NM, in 1999.
Muriel’s life was full. She loved her family, horses, gardening, painting, her lifelong friendships, and mostly she loved the Lord Jesus Christ. Muriel could always be found “making friends” wherever she went – the doctors’ offices, shopping, art galleries – smiling and talking about the Lord. A real Evangelist!
Muriel started teaching her first Sunday School class at age 14. She made the Bible come alive through her vivid imagination, constant life applications, and deep soaking in the Word. She continued teaching adult Bible studies into her late 80's.
Because of a young boy’s drowning, who was in her Sunday School class, she became a swim instructor. During her 20’s, she volunteered at YWCA teaching swimming lessons to children; however, her highlight was teaching her own mother – at age 59!
“A born leader” Muriel hosted and led Young Life “Club” meetings in Basking Ridge, NJ, and was chairman of Christian Women’s Club in Summit, NJ. In 1964, she brought both Young Life and Christian Women’s Club to NM, where she was the founding president. In the late ‘60’s, Muriel was President of Christian Women’s Club in Seattle, WA. She often had speaking engagements on the East coast and in the Midwest.
It was through the Christ-centered influence of Young Life where she really found her heart through loving teen-aged kids, many of whom were in contact with her throughout her lifetime. This was the happiest time of her life, and so fulfilling to her family as well.
Keswick Christian Conference Grounds in NJ, was a pivotal place for Muriel the summer of her 8th grade graduation. She was spellbound listening to missionaries telling their stories. She gives thanks to Mrs. Estall, her leader cabin mother, with whom she talked about these challenges. Fascinated by her stories, holding back the tears, Muriel began thinking about the mission field. Back the following year, and then one more time with her new husband, Bill Baikie, they sent in their missionary application. The last time was with her mother, when Muriel was pregnant with her second child, Cynthia.
A Funeral Service will be held on Saturday, October 12, 2019 at 1:00 p.m. at FRENCH-University followed by a Reception. Right up to her final days, Muriel never lost the passion to wining souls for Christ.
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