Cover photo for Mary MacDonald's Obituary
Mary MacDonald Profile Photo
1923 Mary 2014

Mary MacDonald

July 29, 1923 — November 29, 2014

Mary Grey MacDonald 1923 - 2014

Mary MacDonald passed away on November 29, 2014 following a brief illness related to heart failure. During the last weeks of her life, family members cared for her 24 hours a day with the guidance and assistance of Sutter Hospice. After a restful night, she passed away peacefully in the morning surrounded by family members and love. Mary was born Mary Catherine Grey in New Orleans, LA in July 1923 to Fredrick William Grey and Harriet Moisant Grey. Mary was raised in a classic "Shotgun" style house built behind the 1787 Destrehan Plantation "Manor House," which is several miles up the Mississippi River from New Orleans. At that time, the Pan American Oil Company (later Standard Oil) had an oil refinery on the Destrehan plantation grounds, and Mary's father was the refinery manager. It was an idyllic country life, where young Mary could climb the century-old oak tree in front of the manor house with friends, play with her dog Mickey, and ride her Shetland pony. Mary attended schools in Destrehan and New Orleans, graduating high school from the Louise S. McGehee School for Girls in 1941. She subsequently enrolled as an art major in the H. Sophie Newcomb Memorial College, which at that time was a distinct college for women within Tulane University. In the summer of 1942, while vacationing at a family friend's beach cottage in Pensacola, FL, she happened to meet a dashing young Naval Aviator named Archibald MacDonald who was serving as a flight instructor at the Pensacola Naval Air Station. They were married the following February, at a small chapel on the Navy base. They exited the chapel with Arch's Navy colleagues lining the walkway on two sides and creating a "tunnel" of crossed sabers. Mary lived in Pensacola during Arch's first deployment to the South Pacific Theater. After his return, they moved to Houston where Arch trained on a new aircraft type before his second deployment. This was the first of many moves in their lives while Arch served 23 years as an officer in the Navy, a career that had them move to many states and countries every two years or so. Through this nomadic period of their lives, they started and raised a family, within which Mary was the foundational rock through all the family disruptions associated with moving children to new places and enrolling them in new schools. Reflecting the formality of her English father, she miraculously managed to keep her young children properly dressed for special occasions... suits for the boys and pretty dresses that she made for their daughter. Mary even tried to implement a "manners night" at home in the early 1960s, where all were required to dress for dinner (ties for the gents, nice dresses for the ladies) and use their best table manners. However, this broke down in hardy laughter after her eldest son came to dinner one evening wearing no shirt, but with a tie tied neatly around his neck as the rules had specified. She endured the rebelliousness of each of her children as they went through that life stage, and somehow managed to make good people out of each of them. Following Arch's 1963 retirement from the Navy, the family moved from their home in Falls Church, Virginia to California, eventually settling in the Fairfield area. Arch returned to his college vocation of civil engineering and started a small company that did paving and grading. One of his contracts in 1965 entailed paving all the bike paths around the Tercero Dormitories on the UC Davis campus. In 1967, he decided to re-enter the Navy as a civilian contractor, which had him traveling to Vietnam for two years where he oversaw numerous construction projects at various military bases. With Arch again overseas, and her older children gone or leaving the nest, Mary decided to re-enter college and complete the degree interrupted by her marriage in 1943. She enrolled at UC Davis, commuting from Fairfield, and completed her BA degree in Art. Later, Mary, Arch and their youngest son Craig, moved to Japan for five years where Arch was involved in military construction projects throughout the Far East. During their 5 years in Japan, Mary developed a deep and everlasting love for Japanese art and culture. In 1976, after Arch finally retired, he and Mary and their youngest son, Craig, returned to California, settling in Davis where their son Jim lived, with his wife Judy and their two children. At the time, Jim's children were Mary's only grandchildren. Mary also took this opportunity to enroll once again in UC Davis, earning a Master's degree in Art History in 1981. Her M.A. thesis afforded an opportunity to organize and properly describe the many treasures she had collected or photographed in Japan. And with the calmness of retired life, she was finally able to fully engage in her own artistic interests which included ceramics, water colors and collages, with the latter drawing upon her vast collection of fine Japanese papers. In addition to her art work, Mary volunteered her time to a number of community organizations, including the Sutter Hospital Auxiliary and Yolo Hospice. Over the years, she donated quite a number of her art works to those organizations to support fundraising efforts. She loved the Davis community, and lived here far longer than she lived anywhere else in her life. In an open letter to her children written 15 years ago, in which she stated her desires for eventual end-of-life care, Mary noted "I have had a very good life. Not without trials and tribulations, but with the resources to withstand them. I have had a marriage that I think was as good as it gets, and five children in whom I take great pride." Mary was preceded in death by Arch, who passed away in 1992. She is survived by her son Bruce and his wife Cathie, and their children Mary and Andy; her son Jim and his wife Judy, as well as their son Sean and their daughter Carolyn Beth Baker and her husband Tim and their four children Emily, Jenna, Gizaw and Bekele Baker; her son John and his children Mindy, Archie and Kelly; her daughter Ellen Pritchett and her son Douglas; and her son Craig and his children Adrian and Graham. And of course, Mary's many friends in Davis and Japan. Respecting Mary's wishes, there will be no memorial service. Friends wishing to remember her are encouraged to make donations in her name to the Sutter Davis Hospital Auxiliary Scholarship Fund, Yolo Hospice, Sutter Hospice, or Citizens Who Care, Inc. of Yolo County.

Citizens Who Care, Inc. of Yolo County

Sutter Davis Hospital Auxiliary Scholarship

Yolo Hospice

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