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Mrs. Mary Strawn-Hamilton

Obituary for Mrs. Mary Strawn-Hamilton

June 1, 1936 - December 15, 2014
Decatur, Georgia | Age 78


Fare thee well, O green-eyed beauty, who graced our lives with what now seems like such a short while. We'll sing songs 'til we follow, hoping to see you again on the other side.

How can a life lived so vibrantly be summed up and who knows the entire scope of her influence? As the effervescence of the life of Mary Susan Doyle Smith Strawn-Hamilton bursts in the hearts of those who love her, the testimonies of those who have been inspired by her continue to be heard from around the world. The walls rang with many voices singing in remembrance from the Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago a week after her passing. A simple email arrived from India expressing not only shock and sorrow but also enduring appreciation for the Giraffe song. A Facebook prayer from Taiwan offered, "May there be solace in these days of grief. May there be strength and peace." Her husband Frank said of her, "She was the most wonderful person I ever had the fortune to know, giving, caring, compassionate, strong, optimistic, a terrific sense of humor and the light of my life."

Stories of her empathy and wisdom, enthusiasm and wit are continuing to be told. Tears of loss are still being shed. Songs about her are being composed. The breadth and depth of the impact of the life of this woman are still unfolding.

As a lifelong music, art, cuisine and animal lover, Mary, with her husband Frank, committed many hours to community activism, sharing songs & raw food recipes, and healthy habits as a way of life. Whether performing music for large or small audiences, hosting musical jams with colorful and tasty raw food platters or singing songs at peace and social justice protests, Frank and Mary created lively celebrations.

Her children remember her as a vivacious, witty and multi-talented mother who shared her passion for new experiences, art, music, food, and fun at every turn. Singing folk songs and Christmas carols in the car. Childhood days at Old Garden Beach. The Newport Folk Festival in the early 1960s. Jokes, puns and laughter at the dinner table.

Many years ago in Marblehead, MA, she named her sail boat, "Egret." Since its seaworthiness was questionable, she said she could always add an "R" and call it the "Regret" if it sank. It didn't. And neither did she. Through any challenge or difficulty, she proved unsinkable; a women with deep reserves of strength, determination and humor.
Descended from Edmund Greenleaf who settled in Newbury, MA in 1634, Mary doggedly pursued genealogy for both Frank and herself over many years, visiting the genealogical archives in Salt Lake City and tracking down records and relatives in the US, Canada and Ireland. Her grandmother, Jessamine McEachern Greenleaf taught her piano as a child and fostered a lifelong pursuit of music. Her great-grandfather, William Henry Greenleaf, Sr., captained his first Gloucester Schooner ship at a young age and had an eventful career out of Gloucester, MA. Mary's mother, "Peg" Greenleaf Doyle Boone, described his language as colorful but not irreverent. She said "He could cuss a person up one side and down the other and never use a swear word." She also told of how Mary as a baby would sit on her grandfather's lap and listen to him talk and talk, watching him intently with those big eyes. He exclaimed, "She understands everything I say to her!"

As the daughter of a physician and nurse, part of her DNA was in valuing and sharing healing. There are many stories of her understanding and intelligent care of others. Her stepson, Evan, credits her with saving his life by nurturing him after a near-fatal accident and teaching him how to take better care of himself by choosing healthy foods. Her most recent favorite song is "The Music of Healing" written by Tommy Sands, a songwriter and activist from County Down, Northern Ireland.

Mary and Frank invested in their community in many ways including heading up the neighborhood watch program. Neighbor Cindy Cross wrote, "We all have a story of 'first meeting Mary' that is 'ours' - unique and personal; yet we all share a common thread and that is Mary's warmth and welcoming spirit at that first meeting." Many have spoken and written of her spiritual light and warmth that will be sorely missed.

As adventurous travelers, Frank and Mary frequently visited Chicago, California, New England and Florida and their world travels included China, Ireland, Germany, and Prince Edward Island. Mary retired from the Delta Airlines Reservation office in Atlanta but began her career with the yellowbird, Northeast Airlines, in the Boston office in 1968 before they merged with Delta.

In addition to being a valued employee and supervisor with multiple years of perfect attendance, Mary also pursued many artistic expressions throughout life. Besides singing, she loved to sketch, paint, knit and sew. Her inventive raw food creations in the kitchen were amazing and delightful. She played and taught the guitar. She played many instruments including banjo, ukulele, autoharp and began learning the electric bass guitar six months ago.

On the evening of December 15th, 2014, Frank was at the piano and Mary on her bass guitar and they were practicing the song, "Plaisir d'amore." She suddenly came over to tell him she was experiencing pain in her neck, chest and back. They called 911 and she opened the front door for them but collapsed in her husband's arms and could not be revived. What a tragic and sudden loss for all those who love her.

Survived by her husband, soul mate and musical partner, Frank Strawn-Hamilton as well as her children Melissa Smith Abbott (Charles), Shelley Smith Laine (Mark), Susan Smith Dzuro (John), Robert M.C. Smith, Jr., stepson Evan Hamilton (Teresa); grandchildren Benton Smith, Avery Lucas Woodard (Todd), Elizabeth Dzuro, Katherine Dzuro, Victoria Laine, Michael Dzuro; sister-in-law Margaret Doyle; nieces Dr. Rebecca Doyle, Renata Doyle Greene, Johannah Doyle Curtis (Ernie), Sonja Doyle Doucette (Scott); great nephews Lynds Jones, Rich and Tyler Curtis; great nieces Talia and Hali Doucette; cousins Pat Sarrau Charleton (Dan) and David Greenleaf Moore; and many, many beloved friends.

Born in Gloucester, Massachusetts to Dr. George Melvin Doyle & Margaret Greenleaf Doyle, RN, she was predeceased by her parents, stepfather Howard Boone, stepmother Rita Doyle and brother Peter Austin Doyle (aka Tapio Talvitie). She attended St. Ann School and Gloucester High School. She lived in Gloucester, Rockport, Magnolia, Georgetown, Marblehead and Swampscott, Massachusetts before transferring with Delta Airlines to Georgia in 1985.

After major surgery in 2013, Frank Hamilton wrote this song and sang it to his beloved wife nearly every day:
"Mary in the Morning"

Mary in the morning
with the sunlight dancing in your eyes.
Mary in the evening
with your warm smile lighting up the skies.
There'll never be another one like you
So passionate and so true.
I'm the luckiest man to find such a woman
To make my life complete.
Mary you're my darlin' and I'll hold you always in my heart.
Mary, you're my darlin' and we'll never, ever be apart.
You're the one I've waited for
So tender and so strong
You're the inspiration and the reason for this song.

Here's Frank Hamilton singing at the Open House the week of her passing:

Musical memorials are being planned in her honor. A Memorial Concert in Georgia this Spring and a Memorial in Massachusetts this Summer. Follow on Facebook:

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