Mary J Ward, age 75, of Charlottesville, Virginia passed away on Monday, February 5, 2024.
After a long battle with cancer, Mary Ward departed this life on February 5, 2024, still surrounded by both old and brand-new books as always. Born at the home of her parents in Rupert, West VA, Mary was the second of five children. Memories of a childhood spent on farms in the mountains of her birthplace remained prominent in her thoughts. Even her email name of mountain heart was a constant reminder of earlier days. Mary’s love of books started during summer afternoons with our mother reading to wiggling children. Sometimes we fell asleep, but we always listened. At a young age, she embraced Thomas Jefferson’s declaration, “I cannot live without books” and this love remained a consistent passion throughout her life.
After the family moved to Virginia, Mary attended Cismont School and graduated from Albemarle High School in 1966. She obtained her undergraduate degree from Va Tech and her graduate degree from Ohio Northern University. After teaching English at Ohio Northern and Bowling Green universities she returned to Charlottesville, retiring after thirty years at the law firm of McGuireWoods LLP.
While her love of reading came from her mother, her love of conversation came from her father. During her years at McGuireWoods she offered a familiar voice to both new and well-known callers. Remaining intellectually curious all her life, Mary’s reading interests were expansive with few books she didn’t like. Her maternal grandfather researched the history of his Christie family and even read his dictionary before going to sleep at night. She relished interviewing elderly relatives to hear personal stories of how they lived and what it was like growing up in their times.
Mary loved the outdoors, starting with her early Cave Club exploring in Blacksburg, VA. She was especially fond of camping in the Outer Banks, N.C. and the Dolly Sods Wilderness in West, VA. She often hiked Old Rag Mountain alone or with friends in Charlottesville, VA and was disappointed when illnesses no longer allowed her to enjoy these activities. She also delighted in the lives of her local nephews and niece, faithfully attending band concerts and sporting events without being deterred by rain or cold.
Her parents, Randall and Margaret Jones, predeceased all their children.
Left behind to treasure her memory-sisters, Martha Burton, Keswick, VA, Sharon Frazier (Mike) Palmyra, VA, Doris Manning (John) Etowah, TN and her brother, Dale Jones (Kathy) Charlottesville, VA; her nephews, James Halstead (Lynn) and their daughter Kendall Warner (Justin) Troy, VA, Travis Manning (Abi) and their daughter, Nora, Arlington, VA; Brian Jones (Amelia)Apex, N.C., Matthew Jones, Charlottesville, VA and Jocey Barnett (Barrett) Athens, TN.
Mary greatly appreciated special friends Helen Holley, Ellen Dudley and Eric Seaborg, Dick and Carol Ward, along with caring neighbors, The Turtle Doves, dear friends from church and special cousins. Heartfelt thanks also to Rebecca McIntyre and Dr. Leigh Anne Cantrell (UVa) who were devoted in their support of and comfort to Mary.
Visitation will be held at Teague Funeral Service, 2260 Ivy Road, Charlottesville, VA on Friday, February 16, 2024 from 6:00 pm to 8:00 p.m. A celebration of Mary’s life will be held on Saturday, February 17, 2024 at 3:00 p.m. at South Plains Presbyterian Church, (GPS) 410 Black Cat Rd., Keswick, VA. A private service will be at Monticello Memory Gardens at a later date.
In lieu of flowers, a donation may be made in Mary’s memory to: South Plains Presbyterian Church (Mail address) P.O. Box 277, Keswick, VA 22947; Edgar and Eleanor Shannon Foundation for Excellence in Public Education,1868 Reas Ford Rd., Earlysville, VA 22936 www.shannongrants.org. or to Hospice of the Piedmont, 675 Peter Jefferson Parkway, Suite 300, Charlottesville, VA 22911 https://hopva.org
To honor Mary’s memory, take time to read a book to a child or take them for a hike!