Mary Ludford Owens passed away peacefully on Saturday, April 20, 2013 at Carolina Inn at Village Green in Fayetteville, North Carolina. A life-long resident of Elizabeth City, North Carolina, Mary Owens was born November 25, 1908 to Mary Ludford and Mathais Owens, both of whom were from Tyrell County on the southside of the Albemarle. Educated in the public school system of Elizabeth City, she thrived academically and socially. The class annual produced by Miss Hattie Harney’s seventh grade identified her as Class President and as the smartest and most popular girl in school. By her senior year in 1926, she was editor of the high school annual and was described by this quotation, “She danced a jig, she sung a song that took my heart away.” And so she did, all her life long.
Continuing to college, after two years at Westhampton in Richmond, she transferred to William and Mary and graduated in 1930 with a Bachelor of Arts degree. After graduation, she taught school in Courtland, Virginia for five years before returning to Elizabeth City to teach Latin, Civics and other subjects at Elizabeth City High School, retiring in 1970 after 40 years in education. Her capacity to challenge and encourage her students ‘to be the best they could be’ produced a legacy of doctors, nurses, engineers, teachers, and other outstanding people in all walks of life. As teacher and mentor to all whom she taught, she was beloved by her students. Their friendships have continually enhanced the quality of her life throughout the years.
As an active member of Blackwell Memorial Baptist Church, she taught Sunday School for many years and faithfully participated in worship services and other activities. Her Christian beliefs inspired her to live a life of non-judgmental acceptance, care and concern for others. These tenets were the basis for her political convictions as an outspoken ‘yellow dog democrat’ who believed government should function ‘for the people’ and protect the common folk. She was a member of the Phi Mu Sorority and NC Association of Educators, as well as an avid supporter of the Museum of the Albemarle and the SPCA of Northeastern North Carolina, She loved her home state and she especially loved northeastern North Carolina.
Often she would remark, “I’m rich,” which for her was an understatement. Her riches came in the love she shared with family and friends, and her attitude to accept life positively and to live it to the fullest. She was a genuinely happy person whose sparkle and wit brought delight to those who came within her sphere.
She was predeceased by her parents, her brother Enoch Ludford Owens and her sister and brother-in-law, Fannie Bolton Owens Bell and Graham Whitehurst Bell. She is survived by a niece and a nephew, Mary-Owens Bell Fitzgerald and Graham Alonzo Bell, their spouses, Frank Owen Fitzgerald, Jr, and Mary Rose Cooper Bell; five great nieces and nephews, Anne Tunstall Fitzgerald and husband Ian Craig Tuck, Frank Owen Fitzgerald, III and wife, Kersten Chapman Marchese Fitzgerald, Graham Whitehurst Bell II, and wife Mariluz Carrion Bell, Stephen Scott Bell, and Elizabeth Rose Bell; ten great nieces and nephews: Stephen Michael Deininger-Bell, Rhiannon Elizabeth Bell, Arianna Ashton Fuller-Bell, Cooper Chamberlain Bell, Maria Rose Bell, Blake Allen Collier, Chamberlain Elizabeth Collier, Payton Rose Collier, Owen Patrick Fitzgerald, and Thomas Chapman Fitzgerald.
The family, on behalf of Mary Owens, gratefully thanks the staffs at Carolina Living in Elizabeth City, Carolina Inn at Village Green and Liberty Hospice in Fayetteville for their tender loving care during her latter years. She brought laughter and joy to them and they responded with deep love and excellent care for her.
A private graveside burial will be in Old Hollywood Cemetery followed by a memorial service to be held at Blackwell Memorial Baptist Church, 700 North Road Street, at 2:30 o’clock on Sunday, April 28, 2013, after which the family will receive friends at the church.
In lieu of flowers, gifts may be made to the Mary Ludford Owens Scholarship Fund at Blackwell Memorial Baptist Church, 700 North Road Street or The Museum of the Albemarle, 501 South Water Street, Elizabeth City, NC. Twiford Funeral Home, 405 E. Church Street, Elizabeth City, NC is assisting the Owens family. Online memorial condolences made be sent to the family at www.twifordfh.com