Mary Lou Ringler had a simple answer when asked to sum up her nearly four decades of work at the First United Methodist Church's Weekday Preschool in Brownwood.

"I'm glad I got to do it," the 79-year-old Ringler said at her home in the 1000 block of Third Street. "It was a blessing to me. I'm grateful to the community for all the blessings they've been to me."

Ringler stepped down from her job as an aide at the school in September, though she continues to teach chapel on Fridays on a volunteer basis.

Ringler won't say it. Won't admit it. Maybe she doesn't even know it: she's the one who's been a blessing to the community, and her friends and colleagues will have a chance to honor her at a reception Sunday, Feb. 23.

The reception will be from 2-3:30 p.m. at the Austin Avenue Church of Christ in Brownwood. 

"We feel like she needs to be honored — just a way of lettering her know how much we think of her," said Terri Kemp, one of several women who are organizing and hosting the reception. Kemp, a teacher at Northwest Elementary School, worked with Ringler at the preschool in the 1990s.

"She's very humble. She doesn't ever want attention," Kemp said.

Ringler and husband, Sam, who died in 2000, moved from Ohio to Brownwood in 1972. Sam Ringler took a job at a factory, then, with one of their four sons, Steve, started Ringler Construction. The couple also had two daughters.

Ringler said she went to work at the preschool in 1976 or 1977. She taught 2-year-olds, and later became a teacher's aide until she stepped down last year.

"I love children," Ringler said.

Kemp described Ringler as "probably the most godly woman I have ever met. 

"It wasn't just a job for her. It was a ministry. "She wanted to share God with those kids." 

Kemp said she believes Ringler was the "heart and soul"of the preschool and the school's anchor.

Lisa Finnigan, who teaches at the preschool, is one of the women helping organize and host the reception. Finnigan described Ringler as "a terrific spiritual leader" of the school.

Ringler prayed for the children and teachers at the preschool every morning, Finnigan said. 

"She was an amazing prayer warrior," Finnigan said. "She's been a wonderful friend to me. She had a wonderful servant's heart."

Sunday's reception, Finnigan said, "is a chance to honor her, honor her service."

Ringler said she doesn't deserve the reception but "I'm excited about it —humbled that they think that much of me. I appreciate it."