Mary McBride

Mary McBride 2014

Mary McBride, 2014, with her AP History Class

“Always sing, always make music – it will hold you in the hardest times, in the best of times.” – Mary McBride 1944-2014.

Mary McBride died suddenly and unexpectedly on Memorial Day, 2014, just weeks from her planned retirement.  She had served Woodlawn since 1972, one of the original cohort of teachers.


H-B Woodlawn held a memorial service for Mary McBride on Thursday, May 29 at 3:15 in the auditorium.

Contributions to a H-B Woodlawn memorial fund can be directed to:

Mary McBride Scholarship Fund,

c/o H-B Woodlawn School, 4100 Vacation Lane, Arlington, VA 22207.


 

Mary Mcbride, 1973

Mary McBride attending a townmeeting held on the front steps of Woodlawn, November 1973.

Frank Haltinger  writes:

As many of you may know, this is an immense loss for our HB community, and for the Arlington Public School’s community as well. Mary was a person who was essentially there for us all, and for communities beyond HB. She was an extraordinary HEART who combined with her wonderful stories, laughter and leadership made so many of us feel better everyday.

Opening song at the HB Woodlawn memorial,  Thursday, May 29, 2014

Opening song at the HB Woodlawn memorial, Thursday, May 29, 2014

A obituary from Mary’s hometown of Milwaukee:

Mary C. McBride 1944 – 2014 “We shall not look upon her like again.”           – Published in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on June 1, 2014

Dr. Mary C. McBride, recently honored by administrators of the Arlington County Public Schools and her colleagues at the Hoffman-Boston Woodlawn Secondary Program for 45 years of distinguished service as a teacher – administrator, died suddenly on May 26, 2014.

The daughter of John (Jack) McBride, a Wisconsin state legislator and federal magistrate and Claire Bannen, a homemaker, Mary was born February 14, 1944 in Milwaukee. She attended St. Robert School and Dominican High School, Trinity College in Washington, DC, and Santa Clara University in California where she earned a BA degree in 1966. While teaching at Shaw Junior high school in the District of Columbia, she studied for an MA degree in American history at Georgetown University. When she applied for a history teacher opening in Arlington, the interviewer worried about her small stature, but she assured him that she was a veteran of Shaw and ready (he regretted his question for years).

Mary began her professional career as head-teacher at H-B Woodlawn in its first years and helped shape its development into a special alternative public high school program, providing quality education in a setting that encouraged student creativity and initiative. Her dissertation for her doctorate in Education Administration at the University of Maryland explored the programs of alternative public schools in the Eastern states. Mary served on important Arlington School committees on diversity, curricula, and standards.

In the community she volunteered at the Arlington Food Assistance program and often appeared with a casserole on the doorstep of an ailing colleague or new parent. A highly skilled tennis player (Wisconsin Girls Doubles Champion in her teens), she moved on to golf and swimming more recently. A successful administrator despite her deep sense of humor, Mary McBride was above all a master teacher. Her ability to make history live, her concern and respect for her students, and her ability to remember them years later have made her a legend in Arlington. Indeed, many old students remember her jokes and kindnesses as well as the New Deal.

Her brothers John, Dennis, and sister-in-law Tracy, and niece, Kathryn Taubert predeceased her. She is survived by her sister, Anne Taubert , brother-in-law Bruce , sister-in-law Colleen, Othello McBride, and several generations of nieces and nephews. She will be missed by her close friends from grade and grad school, her friends in the Safeway checkout lines, and by her colleagues and students.

In celebration of Mary’s life, family and friends should gather at Holy Cross Cemetery in the West Chapel (7301 W. Nash St., Milwaukee) on Thursday, June 5, from 10:30 AM until the time of a Catholic Prayer Service at 11:00 AM. Interment at the cemetery will follow. In loving memory of Mary, contributions appreciated to the Mary McBride Scholarship Fund, c/o H-B Woodlawn School, 4100 Vacation Lane, Arlington, VA 22207. Shakespeare wrote not of Hamlet but of Mary McBride when he said “She was a woman, take her for all in all. I shall not look upon her like again.”

A short film, a collage of image and song,  created for Mary’s retirement by her colleagues.

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Interview with Mary McBride, 1978, as the HB merger and transition to the “Stratford” site was planned.

A sample reactions to the news of Mary’s sudden passing on FB:

Lisa Moscatiello writes: Still trying to process this news. Feeling so sad this morning and I’m sure for a long time to come. She was a great teacher and a kind, humane person. I just saw her last week & she was full of energy & did not look like someone about to retire.

Ester Brittian writes: Such sad news. I think of the ripple effect of all the lives she touched, a great teacher’s legacy goes on and on.

Drew McCoy writes: Without a doubt, a teacher who was extremely influential in the Woodlawn community, who touched me personally like very few others. She had a gift, and was generous in sharing it with all of us. She prepared me for college in a way no others did–she treated students as equals and challenged us to think way beyond the text. We are all enriched to have known her and I am saddened by this loss to society.

Brian Price writes: Mary sent a lot of us out on lifelong independent studies. I always appreciated that.

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Pix uploaded by Ellen Showalter, Graduation 1982

Nancy Foster Benedict writes: She really challenged your thinking. Such a dynamo!

Jimmy Overholt writes: So committed to HBW, and was so instrumental in all our successes. We will miss her dearly. She may have literally given her life to HB, since she never quite made it to retirement...

Corrie Drennan writes: Stunned. The halls of HB will never be the same.

Peter Tao writes: The HB family is a bit emptier tonight….what a great loss.

Mary in 1992

Mary in 1992

Margaret Harbaugh writes: Rest in peace, Mary. I think Arlington County School kids in general and we HB grads in particular are so unbelievably lucky and (yes!) blessed to have had such a dedicated, inspirational, colorful group of teachers and staff to learn from. I wonder if HB teachers know just how often we look back with appreciation and gratitude. Thank you to Mary, and so many others, for changing so many of our lives for the better.

Kathy McFarland Evans writes: She appreciated her students and always found them entertaining. She prodded us into becoming better versions of ourselves.

Graduation, 1982

Graduation, 1982

Ben Towers writes: So very, very sad, but Mary gave so much to so many that her legacy will live on for generations. I am sometimes in awe of the influence so many of my HBW teachers had on me that I never realized until far later in life…..

Linda Printzenhoff writes: Oh my….she had just the right parts of spunk and sass..

Lauren Beltz writes: Mary McBride was my teacher, my sister Linda and Lisa Beltz’s teacher, and Lisa’s son Brendan’s teacher. She was strongly influential on all of us. She was friends with my father, and part of our extended family since 1976. I have spoken to my family, and we are all standing with the McBride family, as well as with our beloved H-B Woodlawn community. May her Memory be for a Blessing: Z”L.

Mary McBride was awarded a doctorate in Alternative Education in 1977.

Mary McBride was awarded a doctorate in Alternative Education in 1977 from the U of Md.

William F. Sweeney  writes: ” …….  Without her interest in me, I’d never have graduated high school. It’s not an exaggeration. Mary was exceptional. Our community has suffered a terrible loss. I will never, ever forget her and her influence on my life.

Tracy Ann Essoglou writes: ouch. Rest in peace Mary. a great great teacher.

Anna Golden writes: She was a wonderful teacher and person. Her Russian History class was my favorite.

Lisanne Schloss writes:  Such sad news, but happy memories of a very special person who made an indelible impression on my young life.

Katie Haritos-Shea writes: She was a very fine person and dedicated educator. She made a positive influence in my life. I am glad she was a part of it for me long ago.

Annie Lynn writes: I remember what I learned from her to this day. Extraordinary teacher, friend, woman, person.

Caroline Goell writes:  Think of all the people she influenced and all the lives she touched. Holy cow. That’s a life well lived. I’ll raise a glass to ya tonight, Mary. Join me, friends.

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Mary McBride in the 1982 HBW yearbook

Chip White writes: Mary was an extraordinary person who deeply affected me, and I suspect, just about every person she came in contact with. I remember that she pretty much never said no to a request for a college recommendation, and was generous and thoughtful in many, many ways. I’ll also always remember her wonderful sense of humor. She will be deeply missed.

Ray Sarracino  writes: The world’s a little darker today. My condolences to her family and friends. She made a difference in the world.

Hannah Moore writes: I think of so many I want to talk about Mary ……. How when I showed up at HB 30 years after graduating to put my daughter’s name in the lottery, she knew who I was.

Jenny Chambers writes: Thank you, Mary, for your impact on HB & the lives of your students. We will miss you. RIP. Jenny ’95 & John ’99 Chambers

Mary at the 2011 Reunion [with Adelaide Rusch, Sara Beth Allen, Judy Bodnar, and Kathy McFarland]

Mary at the 2011 Reunion [with Adelaide Rusch, Sara Beth Allen, Judy Bodnar, and Kathy McFarland]

YouTube video of  the speech Mary McBride gave at her retirement dinner in May 17th, 2014

Also the same speech with the audio processed to improve levels and clarity at the expense of video clarity.

 

So you remember Woodlawn and H-B in the 70s...

Memories shared at the HB Woodlawn memorial, 5/29/14

Memories shared at the HB Woodlawn memorial, 5/29/14

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43 comments

  1. Kent Allen

    Mary inspired me to take up a recent second career as a teacher after spending three decades as a journalist. I knew her for more than 35 years, first as a teacher, then as a friend, and lastly as a mentor. Less than two weeks ago, I dropped in on her at school to talk about the frustrations of a first-year teacher. She could not have been more empathic and encouraging. I am so glad to have paid what turned out to be my final visit with her. To me, she epitomized the caring, individual-focused instructor by whom all students can benefit. More broadly, she possessed a sharp and engaging mind, provided wise and thoughtful counsel to everyone, and slashed at life’s absurdities with a rapier wit. I will terribly miss Mary and all of her traits.

    Kent Allen
    Woodlawn Class of ’78

  2. Buck Flagg

    As some wag once pointed out during my years at Woodlawn (Class of 1976), paraphrasing the US Supreme Court, that great teaching was like pornography; hard to define, but you knew it when you saw it. Somehow, probably by happenstance, I wound up with Mary for a history class in the first quarter of my first year at Woodlawn. I think it was a history of Russia through 1917. Even as a callow youth I knew I was seeing the real deal and, subsequently, made an effort to sign up for whatever class Mary was teaching, whether it was US history in the twenties and thirties, or US history in the forties and fifties, European history between the wars, Native American history… Whatever, I knew that was where I wanted to be. She embraced the subject she was assigned and brought it to life for us in her classroom either through her carefully prepared lectures or those of guests she brought in from the outside (or inside, once asking Adelaide Rusch to come down the hall and speak to us about her girlhood-in Milwaukee I think it was-during WWII). From this remove of decades I can scarcely recognize the person I was then. Nor could I then imagine the person I was to become. But I know Mary McBride played an outsize role in shaping that person and for that I will always be grateful to her.

  3. Mark Ciano

    A tremendous loss matched by such gratitude for her commitment to her students, HBW and education. Mary’s 40+ year legacy enriched our community and our lives. RIP Mary.

    Mark
    Class of ’81

  4. Diane Schratwieser

    I cannot imagine HB without her. I cannot imagine the world without her. This wonderful human being that was Mary.
    Diane Schratwieser (HB Mom)

  5. Some additional responses from the FB web:
    Linda Beltz Glaser writes: So sad indeed….Mary was the smartest teacher I’d ever had and she never let us get away with being less than our best, constantly challenging us to rise to the level at which her mind worked. Mary’s was no easy A and I loved her for it. The world is indeed a darker place without the fiery power of her intellect and gift for teaching.

    Alison Rosa writes: Both of my brothers, myself and my daughter were fortunate to have had Mary McBride in our lives. She was a wonderful, challenging teacher with an enormous heart. Last Thursday at the Choir performance she was honored with a special song, [O My Luve’s Like a Red, Red Rose” by Rene Clausen] and beautiful flowers and she spoke of singing and playing music as always having a song in your heart wherever you go. RIP Mary.

    Lisa Beltz Jessel writes: What inspired me about Mary was how genuine she was. She was straight, authentic and genuine. As straight as Mary was she was respectful and caring in all her communications. She was a great teacher and a success in life because she saw everyone for who they really were, not their BS and expected them to be their greatness. She knew every souls worth. And she made everyone see themselves as capable and great.

    Edward C. Martin writes: All the teachers at Woodlawn went the extra mile. They were mentors, freinds, psychologists, whatever they needed to be at the time. And, with a big wink and nod, during the famous “Woodlawn Welcomes W-L Streaking Team”, partners in crime. Mary had one of the biggest winks and nods for that one.

  6. Steve Mayer writes: Heres a funny story that involves Mary that maybe no one has talked about. The HS ’82 class- with Ray’s permission- briefly took over COMPLETE CONTROL of the school. This was done by a few ringleaders- I was one- packing the town meeting and simply seizing power It was intended to demonstrate a flaw in elections and did so.
    So the next day we ran the school (those who didn’t skip And did so for about half a day. Ray was in on the joke and Mary wasn’t, so she was the one who finally shut it down.
    I was the Last Man Standing and tried to argue my point. She just shook her head, gave me one of those “Mary McBride” looks, and said “You are CRAZY! Thus ended a little known incident in HBW history. R.I.P. Mary. You were one one of a kind and without you H.B. Woodlawn would no longer be around today, imo.

  7. Melissa Gilbo Allison

    Mary was nothing short of inspirational. I was in her AP Modern European class in 1985-86 during my senior year and Mary had a way teaching as though she was telling a story. You were enthralled and didn’t want her to stop speaking. I looked forward to her classes and would wander into her office on other days hoping her wisdom would rub off on me. May she rest in peace.

  8. It was no coincidence that Mary was born on Valentine’s Day. She was all heart.

  9. Brian Macnamara

    A truly wonderful person has passed. I knew Mary from morning swim and track workouts at Yorktown. She always seemed to have a minute to stop and say hello. She will be missed.

    • Molly N. Ross

      I, too, knew Mary from morning track and swim workouts–probably over 30 years’ worth! She was a constant in her own lane, with her own deliberate style. I so enjoyed talking to her about the politics, politics and history, religion, and more–sometimes we even stood at the pool wall and deferred swimming a bit to get each other’s (typically similar) perspective. Most have commented on her gift for listening and remembering and making you feel special–how true! We intersected just last Thursday or Friday, for the second time in the last 6 months not at the pool, as I was teaching my dog Teddy (Roosevelt) to sit before crossing the street. Mary happened to pull up to the cross-walk and waited in her car while we then crossed, and she called out “How’s Teddy doing?” She even remembered Teddy’s name, and made us both feel special! Gosh, I feel such a void–I’ve had to check a few times in the last couple of days to make sure she wasn’t at her favorite locker at the pool.

  10. Jodee Jones

    Mary will be missed by more than just the students and the teachers of H-B Woodlawn – the office staff will miss her as well. I had the pleasure of working in the office for 13+ years with her and I knew if ever there was an issue that needed to be resolved that Mary would be on it and it would be taken care of! She was all HBW through and through! A wonderful person who will be missed!

  11. I began to visit Mary at HBW after a lapse of a couple decades on my scarce return visits to Arlington. Initially resisting, the cold ceramic walls of my old, dreaded Junior High made me fear Woodlawn had lost it heart, but within moments of settling into conversation in Mary’s office, I knew the energy and soul of our school was still vital.

    She remembered us, I found that astonishing. She ask after particular classmates, some of which I had sadly lost all contact with, but several I could proudly report on their comings and goings. And she was especially gifted in making myself feel important and valued, I would leave our brief reunions with new ideas and motivations. More than just a transitory mirage of good intentions, beyond the casual promise, something in Mary’s particular prodding would bring those projects to completion. I think that was her compassionate, inspirational gift.

    Mary was to look past the chaos and indiscipline of teen-age angst. I never expected her to stay with Woodlawn, you would expect the libertine license and faddish self-absorption would run counter to her broader perspective and self-control. As a student, my cynicism and sarcasm ruled the day (“Franklin Pierce, our greatest President”), and Mary would take this plainly and demand explication and support of the thesis.

    Mary stayed with the Woodlawn experiment because she possessed insight that let her peer through the swirling smokey clouds and layers, and perceive, support and draw out great gifts. Conversely, I know as the HBW curriculum became more routinized, regularized and conventional, her gift came into play again — finding the dissenting and creative heart in each beneath the convention.

    I am so glad I could return to visit, both because she was a continuing inspiration to me, but also because I could tell she had been right all along to believe in each of us.

  12. Elizabeth Varela

    The thing about Mary was, she never forgot any details about you or your family. I would run into her after years of not seeing her and she would ask about my family, using everyone’s name. Mary had the gift of making you feel like you were the most important person in the room. She was always respectful of students and had high expectations for them all. The world is a different place without her. Woodlawn will be a different place without her.

    Elizabeth Varela
    Class of ’82

  13. josh broder

    Mary leaves an incredible legacy in the magnificent school she helped create and served for so long, and in the memory of thousand of us: her colleagues, her students, and their families. A meaningful life.

  14. Robin Springberg Parry HBW '86, parent '18

    Mary’s AP US History and AP Modern Europe classes were fantastic – she was an incredible teacher, demanding in the best way, demanding that we think deeply and creatively and look beyond the surface, and I learned so much from her.
    Then I had the good fortune and delight of singing with her and sharing our love for music over the past few years, which I am very grateful for. When I went to rehearsal for Community Chorus for the first time (it’s a winter chorus for alumni/parents/teachers/anyone else connected to H-B), I was so happy to see Mary there. She asked what I was doing at work these days, asked after my mother, and was pleased to hear I have a child at H-B now. We talked about the parts (Handel’s Messiah having some difficult alto passages), shared a music stand, and I was surprised and tickled that Mary was the one making a few comments and jokes to me while Bill (the terrific music director) was talking to other voice parts. Maybe she got a little kick out of being the not-100%-attentive-student instead of the teacher who would have to gently but firmly get them in line.

    It was sheer joy performing with her, surrounded by other H-B alums, parents, teachers and students.

    Mary influenced and touched so many people at H-B over the decades, and meant so much to so many people. This loss cuts deep among the whole H-B community.

  15. Anne Welles

    Every one of the countless times I came to Mary for advice when I was teaching at HB, she greeted me with a twinkle in her eye and an open heart; she would give me a little smile, close her door, and focus completely on me, starting with something like “Annie, Annie, Annie, what’s the drama in the drama department today?” She cared about every single student I told her about, and her goal was always about how to help that child find success. I will never forget the youthful energy, enormous heart, contagious laugh and humorous eyes of Mary McBride, a woman who is an inspiration to me and has been to so many people throughout her life. I miss knowing she’s sharing this earth with me, but I am grateful for the memories, and I know that she is dancing in heaven.

  16. Ellen Hufford

    I remember Mary as such a kind a loving person. I never had her as a teacher but since I was in resource classes at H-B she was part of my IEP meetings and was always giving me encouraging words about what ever I need to get extra help with in a certain class. When I would tell her what I wanted to do with my life after high school. She told me that my choice of going to NOVA community college and perusing my degree in Early Childhood Education was good path for me and would lead to a life long career in something I loved.She could see that I loved to work with kids and would end up being a great teacher for young children.
    I enjoyed seeing her smiling face around H-B.

    • Ellen Hufford Class of 2000

      H-B was such a great school because Mary was a part of it for so many years.

  17. Elizabetg Anne Buckman

    Ms. Mcbride was one of my fondest memories at HB. She was always kind, a good listenet, and loved the students. God bless you Mary, your memory will live on forever.

  18. Rip Wilder

    She was a good woman and always stood up for the problematic red-headed kid, and that was often.

  19. Some more remembrances from FB —
    Danielle Probst writes: I have just been so stunned by this news I haven’t been able to really think about what I could say. Mary was instrumental in getting me to stay in school and graduate at a time when I had lost my will to do so. I will never forget her sitting in her office listening to me and challenging me with questions as I did my independent study with her on the Troubles in Northern Ireland. Later in life I realized that this was more like a college seminar and she treated me like a fellow scholar rather than a student. She brought out the best in me. First Doris, now Mary: my 2 most important teachers of high school. Gone. I hope she’s giving classes in the afterlife because I’m sitting in the front row! RIP Mary McBride, I hope you know how beloved you are.

    Maripat Metcalf writes: When I have been impressed with my childrens’ teachers, I have been secretly comparing them to a few that had an disproportionately large influence on me. Mary was one – perched up on her stool, teaching and eating yoghurt because there was no time to take a meal break, even at HBW. She really was authentically herself in a non-intrusive kind of way, and gave a good name to to “no nonsense”. If you were doing something for Mary -from school work to random work around the school- you did it right, because she expected you to. That probably taught us almost as much as her actual “face time” in the classroom.

  20. Pollard Family

    We knew Mary as a neighbor. She always had kind words for neighborhood kids and knew them all by name. She was happy to let the kids charge through her back yard, or hide in her shrubs during a neighborhood game of “jail” or “sardines.” With Mary in the neighborhood, we parents felt as though our children had an extra guardian angel watching over them.

    A very kind and special person she was — teacher, friend, neighbor, guardian angel. A dedicated educator for over 40 years, she had earned a break. We are saddenned both to lose Mary in our neighborhood, and that she won’t have the opportunity to enjoy her much-deserved retirement.

    But we also reflect on a life well-lived, and we see an example in her commitment, her steady labors, her productivity over the course of a career spanning decades. With the positive role she played for so many children for so long, her guiding influence will be felt for generations. And we wonder if perhaps Mary’s work here was done?

  21. Douglas Watson

    Mary McBride, for many years a swimming colleague at Yorktown High School pools, judged that a student life guard heading to university might benefit from financial assistance provided by our swimming colleagues. So she mustered such outreach and a goodly sum was provided the student. Mary just did things, no hoopla required. Such heart, such humor. One of a kind, I am delighted she passed our way.

  22. Suzanne M (Wills -) Kessler

    I’ve known Mary since the summer of 1954. We met at a camp called Catholic Girls’ Camp in Central Wisconsin. Then, to our mutual surprise, we discovered we were freshmen classmates at Dominican HS in Milwaukee in 1958. Ever since that summer of 1954 it’s always been evident to me that Mary’s love of others was proven by her actions, her humor and specifically, her unabashed joy in conversing be it with one person or with many persons. For me Mary probably not only said the well known “Irish” prayers, she lived them.
    Although the following was engraved on a headstone in Ireland many years ago, it will always be instrumental in keeping Mary in my thoughts and heart: “Death leaves a heartache no one can heal, Love leaves a memory no one can steal.” Suzanne Wills-Kessler,

  23. motherseer

    I was so sad to hear she was retiring, because I knew that meant it was that much less likely my son would ever graduate from HB. When I saw the e-mail that she had died, it was just such a punch in the heart. She never had an unkind word to say about any child, always tried to put things the kindest & most hopeful way possible, was unfailingly supportive even as she was clear-eyed in dealing with the reality. 70 was much too soon. I know retirement wouldn’t have kept her away – it just would have meant she wouldn’t get paid anymore. She was one of a kind as well as one of the last of a dying breed – a woman who made school her church and served selflessly and cheerfully, with her whole heart and soul. She never gave up on my son and kept making me back off giving up on him too. I only wish he had grabbed her hand one of the many times she held it out to him. Her absence will be felt as long as we have memory, and her presence at HB will be felt in the generations she affected and who took some of her confidence in them and wisdom when they left. So in the Irish way – Mary, May the road rise up to meet you, may the sun shine warm upon your face, and until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of his hand.

  24. Howard Rolston

    Mary was a unique and wonderful presence mornings at the Yorktown pool. She will be greatly missed.

  25. Jeff Humphries

    I knew Mary from the Yorktown Aquatic Center. Mary would swim every morning, before school. I have worked in Arlington for 21 years. I try to keep a professional relationship with the pool patrons. I have known quite a few move away, change pools and some have passed away. So, I try not to let them too close. Well, if you know anything about Mary McBride you would know that I didn’t stand a chance. She is one of the most kind, sweetest, and caring human beings that I know. We will miss Mary greatly.

  26. Nancy Appelbaum

    I last saw Mary in 2008 and although she probably hadn’t seen me in 20 years, she knew exactly who I was. I remember how in high school she would talk about how great the nineteenth century was, and I was not convinced. Who knew I’d go on to be a historian of the nineteenth century? Must have been her subtle influence. I still regret not taking her AP US history course (what in heavens was I thinking?) My deepest sympathies to Mary’s family, friends, and many many students.

  27. David McBride

    I first met Mary McBride in the 1980’s when I was working at Northside Veterinary Clinic for a high school job while going to school at Yorktown. She came in one day to the clinic with a very sick cat. All I remember was getting her a box of tissues–which I would have forgotten about except years later, when I was teaching in the county she remembered me and that simple gesture of getting her tissues during a very difficult time. She was kind to me as I tried to navigate the maze of working in the public schools. When we would occasionally see each other over the years in APS we would joke that I was her “unnatural son.” Just last year, Mary contacted me about helping an impoverished family whose son attended my school. She was adamant about “What can we do, what can I do to help this child?” She didn’t stand idle, she helped the student as best she could. I always marveled at her energy to help others and willingness to do what she could to ease another’s burden. I will miss her dearly–her wit, kindness, and sharp intellect–and am honored to have known her. And while we weren’t technically related (as far as I could tell)–I always felt like we were kindred spirits on the road.

  28. Michael Hamann

    Mary was a kind hearted woman who inspired me and took an interest in trying to help me when I was younger. I remember that she was a sweet and thoughtful woman, and I always wanted to thank her for being so giving, but never got the chance. I am sure the story was the same for many others. I will remember her fondly always.

  29. Mary and I attended hs at Dominican . We weren’t close but she was such a presence in our class . She walked the halls as if she owned them. She was something special and how jealous I was of her complete confidence. Even our teachers respected her and knew they were dealing with an equal. After reading about all the lives she touched I feel honored just to have know her . Mary what a difference you made Karen Kowalski Hickmann

  30. Susan Sufit

    Actually, Mary did teach at another school. She taught at Wakefield HS in Arlington before HB Woodlawn started. I know this because my mother and father were close friends, and my mother (Alice Sufit) was one of her mentors as the Social Studies chairman at HB Woodlawn. Mary did come to our house many a time, popping in unannounced but always welcomed in. Long after my mother also retired from HB Woodlawn (where she transferred to also teach history and government) Mary was a bright funny deadpanned guest that knew each of us children, grandchildren and would remember a story of our youth that would have been discussed in our absence from Arlington as we moved on. She also became a familiar call on the cell phone for many trips to the Emergency Room that my father and mother had to make in their late 80s and 90’s. She was a good woman. A good soul. And I dread having my sister tell my 96 year old Dad that his golfing/tennis neighbor and friend is too soon gone. (I am correcting the Huffington Post note that says she only taught at Woodlawn)
    Susan Sufit

  31. Michael Lemont

    I have known Mary since the 3rd grade. We went on to high school together and have stayed in touch through friends in Milwaukee where we both have family. I was always amazed at the connfidence Mary had regardless of what the issue was. She was very bright and had a wonderful sense of humo and oh so sweet, but most of all she was a life long friend I knew I could always count on.
    Michael Lemont

  32. Elizabaeth Sufit

    I can hardly begin….I am shocked, and so saddened to learn of Mary’s death. I send along condolences to all. Mary was part of my family, and has been for decades. She was much like an aunt to me – sometimes a big sister, and sometimes a parent, but always a friend. My mother, Alice Sufit, was initially Mary’s mentor back at Wakefield, but they quickly became colleagues, and then very close friends. They shared a love of teaching, a passion for history/civics/government, and a deep commitment to helping others. They had great respect for one another, and shared a good sense of humor, although with different styles – Mary didn’t hesitate to call a spade, a spade! Mary came by our house often – both in the years when she and Alice worked together, and in the many years after Alice’s retirement. She and my dad would joke about golf, or tennis; she and Alice would chat politics, or teaching, or compare crocheting projects. Since my siblings and myself live far from Virginia, Mary was often the one who would do a “welfare check” on my parents – bringing in a meal, or a treat, and making sure they were OK. She was the one I called when I was worried about them, or to tell her that my sister or I were coming into town due to an illness or fall – and usually Mary had been there first. Mary was an absolutely compassionate person with anyone – although she could be stern with that compassion! – I know you all will hear her voice – “Now, Elizabeth, …..(and she always called me Elizabeth, never Liz) ….. you know your mom needs to hear that directly from you….” She advised me with education issues we experienced with our own children. In the several years of my mom’s decline– when the dementia had taken much of her recent memory, and changed her, Mary was always able to bring a smile to Alice’s face. I know that it was hard for Mary, having helped her own mother for so long, to have to step in and help with my parents, but she was stalwart and gave of herself freely. Mary and I would commiserate over having parents decline when living far from them; her wisdom and compassion bolstered me incredibly. In the last days of my mother’s life, Mary sat vigil with us in the hospital for hours at a time, day after day, helping us to come to terms with our pending loss. We shared memories of over 40 years, cried, and laughed, and told stories, and when Alice did pass away, she came and held us close. I know there were many facets to Mary’s life that I did not know directly, but I do know that her passing leaves a hole in many, many, hearts. May our memories of her bring us comfort; may her life be a blessing to us all.

  33. Diane Fairbank

    I’d like to frame my thoughts about Mary around our mentor at Georgetown, Father Joseph Durkin, S.J. , who, like Dorothy Brown, would become our friend, and both of these wonderful friendships were principally because of Mary. I recall that it was Mary, for example, who thought we should crash the good Father’s retirement party because she knew he would be glad to see us. Never mind that we weren’t on the list, that it seemed to be entirely faculty and overwhelmingly Jesuit. He, just as the rest of us, was always pleased to see Mary. Over the years we had a chance to be in his company often. He obviously took delight in her great goodness and kindness. For me, there is no better example of her characteristic generosity than when she chose to escort Father Durkin, then 95, and he would live to be 100, on the train from Washington to New York for my graduation, Ph.D., from NYU so that he could fulfill his promise to attend—made some years earlier when he had the confidence I would finish far sooner than I did. And of course I should have. “He’d say, “Make it soon, Diane, or I may be on a stretcher, but I want to come.” And he did. He came in style. He came with Mary McBride.

  34. Andy White wrote on FB:
    Monday, June 2 at 1:03pm

    Since I couldn’t attend either of Mary McBride’s services, I wanted to make sure I had some remarks on her passing for you all to share. I deeply regret not being able to see everyone in person, and I’m sure both events were packed to the roof!

    I had Mary for AP American History, and had just about the most rigorous class of my time at Woodlawn. she was demanding, and got some of my best work out of me. I have especially fond memories of writing about Senator Charles Sumner (the guy who got caned on the Senate floor), and getting to do my research at the Library of Congress.

    That experience must have stuck deep with me, because today I’m a historian and about to publish my first book on ritual performance in Byzantium (the Eastern Roman Empire, lots of Greeks). My path has branched out widely since my Woodlawn years, but I always looked forward to seeing Mary driving her VW Bug (still kicking after all those years) and talking briefly with her whenever we were thrown together. I was able to tell her how excited I was about history, and I hope she appreciates what a difference she made in my life.

  35. Patricia Rengel

    Mary McBride was my first roommate when I moved to DC in the late 60s. We met through Roomate Referral, a service that matched people who had space with those looking for a place to live. It was a match made in heaven. We have been lifelong friends. Mary is my daughter’s godmother. I had great plans to spend time on the golf course with her, talk about books we read, have dinner at her place or mine, knit…and laugh our way through our retirement years. She will be greatly missed.
    Patty Rengel

  36. Teresa Cardiff

    This is the text of a letter I left on the memorial table. I only wish that I had known Mary better because after reading all these posts, I recognize that we had a lot more in common than I knew. That’s probably why I felt a connection with her the very first time we spoke.

    Dear Mary,
    I was planning on writing a note to you when I heard about your upcoming retirement. Although we had only a few personal interactions, I was very impressed by your positive attitude, warmth, and belief in the students, and I wanted to let you know that you would be missed.

    Like the rest of the H-B community, I am grieving your sudden passing. But I am also inspired by the love and respect you both gave and received. The memories shared at the memorials are a testament to a life well-lived and more importantly, a life to reflect upon and emulate.

    Thank you, Mary, for the kindness and understanding you showed to me, my child, and to countless others over the years. You will not only be remembered, but so greatly missed.

    Teresa Cardiff

    -Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.
    Dalai Lama

  37. BobbiSchildt

    Mary’s contributions as an educator in Arlington have been immense. She will be missed not only by her family, friends and history students but also by her colleagues. As I look back over the decades we taught together I remember her ability to captivate people with her sharp wit and knowledge. Always the professional she was a terrific role model for many teachers and students over the years.
    I recall first meeting Mary in 1978 as we planned for the merging of our two schools; Hoffman-Boston and Woodlawn into the “New School”.
    One of my favorite recollections is Mary telling stories about her childhood friends and her antics at the supper table debating with her father when she was growing up. She would always have us in stitches in department meetings with her marvelous sense of humor. We had many fun times chaperoning proms and dances and having almost as much fun as the students.
    She would travel to conferences and all the while seek out ideas and innovations that would help our students succeed and our school adapt to changing times. Wherever she went she would make friends easily with her warmth and humor.
    Although most of her teaching was on the high school level, I remember what fun she had the year she taught 7th grade! Not only did the middle school kids love her units and her famous rendition of “Erie Canal” but they also enjoyed learning history from Mary all year through. What a great sense of humor she had.
    Outside of school she always helped out whether it was by chaperoning on ski trips or supporting a teacher with a challenging classroom situation. She has always been an advocate and a great role model for us all. She and Ray always gave us the freedom we required as well as support when necessary.
    I know Mary taught for over four decades because she loved her work. I was happy to see her recently at her retirement party in May. Like everyone I too was stunned to learn of her death.
    Hats off to Mary!! I like to think that Mary Mc is now regaling St. Peter with her amazing stories.

    Bobbi Schildt

  38. Lynne Ball, daughter of Peg Stevens

    Mary was my mother, Peggy Stevens’ best friend. They met at HB Woodlawn in the 70’s. Mary was with us when my mother died at the beach in 1994. She nursed my sisters and our children through our tragic loss. We met many Woodlawn people during those years. I vividly remember Bucky and Will and staying at Kent Allen’s beach house in Rehobeth. Mary was everything to me, to my sisters and to my children. She was a connection who knew and loved my mother, a confidante, and a good friend. She brought out the very best in people and made such generous allowances for all of our shortcomings, particularly mine. And dear God, was she funny – what an extraordinary and wicked sense of humor she had. What a fabulous story teller. And she was kind beyond words. The last time i spoke with her (maybe mid-May), I asked her if she was in the process of winding down and she said “Oh no, I am so busy – so many recommendations to write, so much to do. I won’t begin to wind down until August.” She loved Woodlawn – she loved the students, she loved her co-workers and although I never sat in a class of hers, I can only imagine that she was truly a master teacher. I just learned of her death last night and I feel so very sad and caught off guard, as I am sure so many people feel. I can’t imagine a world without Mary. I think of the many, many words of encouragement and praise she gave me throughout the years – I think of her casseroles, I think of her singing – I think of her delightful humor, I think of how much she loved her cat. She will be missed by all who were fortunate enough to know her. Yes, I am glad she did not suffer and I am glad she was not deeply incapacitated for years to come but gee, I hate to think of the bargains I might make if those bargains would bring her back to us. There are very few people who touched as many lives as she did, who was as respected and loved as she was. My heart aches and I know the Woodlawn community is aching as well. We are all so blessed to have had her in our lives. I am a better person today because of Mary McBride.

  39. Betty

    Mary was a dear friend of our family . We shared our joys, dilemmas, and aspirations with Mary. I can hear her comforting voice “I think it will be all right.” Now we will ask what would Mary advise as we seek our better selves. We will miss her cheerful visits, her humor, her lively political views, and her interest in us and others. Betty Boyd James, Wynne, Ben, and Caroline James

  40. Stephanie O'Connor

    Mom always said “if anything ever happens to me, Mary McBride will take care of you”. Mary, you kept your promise to her well. I am a better person for having you in my life. Thank you for always caring about my children.

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