Mary W. Testerman

Mar 28, 2021
Warene Testerman

West Hartford, Conn. — After a long illness, Mary Warene Testerman passed away in her West Hartford home this past Thursday, March 25, 2021. She was 96 years old.

Born in 1924 in Lepanto, Arkansas, Warene was one of four children born to Ella Lee and Earnest Wooley. She was predeceased by her parents and three siblings Norma Jean Brookens, John Wooley and Sylvia Wege.

In the 1940s, Warene took a job with Boeing Aircraft in Wichita, Kansas, where she fabricated wings used in planes to train pilots. Her job enabled her to secure housing for her family who then moved from Arkansas to Wichita to be with her. Towards the end of the war, she was accepted into the cadet nursing program at Wesley Medical Center and upon graduation, she became a registered nurse.

In 1949, at a young adult gathering at her church, she met the man who would become the love of her life, Leroy Neal Testerman — a pre-med student at Philips University in Enid, Oklahoma.

They were married April 2, 1950. In 1957, after Neal completed his medical training, the young couple accepted a call to become medical missionaries to Africa with the Disciples of Christ denomination.

In the years when Neal completed medical training and they prepared for mission work at Hartford Seminary, Warene gave birth to their five children, Sherrell, Jan, Tim, Mark and Jennifer.

In 1959, they departed the U.S. to begin their assignment in the Belgian Congo, their oldest child was 9 and their youngest was 2. In 1968, after serving two terms on the mission field, Neal and Warene returned to the U.S. and settled their family in West Hartford, Conn.

From rural Arkansas, to the plains of Kansas, to the distant land of the Belgian Congo and then to the suburbs of Hartford, Warene’s life was one of faith, learning, providing, serving, caring, loving and making home. She was known and will be remembered for her love and memorization of poetry, her love of spelling bees, laughter, cross stitch, tennis, scrabble and rug hooking. Warene cultivated deep, long term friendships throughout her life.

During their years in West Hartford, Neal and Warene were active members of the First Baptist Church of West Hartford. Throughout those years, while raising their five children, they opened their home to foreign students, refugees and troubled youth. Neal and Warene would have celebrated their 71st wedding anniversary April 2.

There was an unmistakable fullness to her life — measured not just in the number of years, but in the gentle tenacity with which she inhabited her days.

Centered by her love of God, her love for Neal and her children and 13 grandchildren, she labored to make everyone in her company feel loved and cared for. The door of her home and her heart were always open. Warene lived a life of great love and consequence.

“I have you fast in my fortress and will not let you depart,

But put you in the dungeon in the round-tower of my heart,

There will I keep you forever, yes, forever and a day,

Till the walls shall crumble to ruin and moulder in dust away.”

— “The Children’s Hour” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

Warene is survived by her husband, Neal; five children and their spouses Sherrell Holtshouser (Jerry) of Anchorage, Ala.; Jan of West Hartford, Conn.; Tim Testerman (Brenda née Newell) of Simsbury, Conn.; Mark Testerman (Gwendolyn née Hall) of Simsbury, Conn.; Jennifer Wood (David) of Glencoe, Ill., and grandchildren Seth, Luke, Kelly, Jared, Nathan, Kyle, Todd, Emma, Philip, Noah, Julia, Jordan and James.

A memorial service at the First Baptist Church of West Hartford (90 N. Main St., West Hartford, CT) is being planned for early June.

If you appreciated reading this news story and want to support local journalism, consider subscribing today.
Call (207) 594-4401 or join online at
Donate directly to keeping quality journalism alive at
Comments (0)
If you wish to comment, please login.
Note: If you signed up using our new subscriber portal, your username is the email address you registered with and your password is in all caps