Mary Frances Larson, 79, a longtime harborite, died Wednesday, March 26, 2014, after a valiant 14 year battle with cancer. She was born April 19, 1934, in London, Ky., to Tim and Mittie (George) Pennington. She was a two pound “preemie”, born in a one room log cabin in the hills of Kentucky. Her great-grandmother saved her life by lining a cardboard box with cotton and placing her in the warming oven of the cook stove. This was her “incubator” for three months. Her parents moved many times and she had attended 14 different elementary and high schools. Her parents followed the “fruit tramp” during the depression. They harvested tobacco in Kentucky, picked oranges in California, hops in Oregon, apples and strawberries in Washington and then went back to Kentucky for the winter. By the time she was seven, Mary’s parents had driven this triangle seven times. When World War II began, the family settled in Central Oregon until the end of the war. The family then settled in Hoquiam in 1950. She graduated as Salutatorian with the class of 1952. She was active in high school, serving as student body secretary, Hesperian editor, a member of the honor society, Pepsters and Spanish Club. She was awarded a four year PTA Scholarship to what was then Central Washington State College, graduating in 1956. In college, she was president of FTA, a member of Spurs (sophomore women’s service club), Kappa Delta Pi Honor Society, The Herodoteans (history club) and worked on the yearbook for four years, The Hyakem, serving as photography editor, assistant editor, editor and student advisor. She co-chaired Dad’s Day Weekend, served on the Associated Women’s Counsel, was given the Award of Distinction and elected to be included in Who’s Who in American Colleges and Universities.
She began teaching English and business education at Hoquiam High School in 1956, transferring to Central Elementary in 1961, where she taught remedial reading in grades 1 through 6. In 1967, she moved to South Aberdeen and taught at Stevens Elementary for 24 years, retiring in 1991. She taught special education, grades 2 through 4 and many combination 2-3 classes.
Mary married Louie Larson of Aberdeen, August 25, 1956, and enjoyed almost 57 years together until his death in 2013. She and Louie enjoyed traveling throughout the Western States on their Honda Goldwing. When they retired they turned to RVing, putting many miles on their motorhome. One of their favorite trips was a summer in Alaska. She enjoyed camping and hunting with her husband and son, sometimes bagging the first buck of the season. She and her family spent most of their summers at the cabin at Lake Nahwatzel where she learned to water ski before she could swim. She considered her greatest adult accomplishment to be learning to swim at 40 years old. She was an avid bowler, bowling many years in the Tri-City League, serving as its president for 10 years. When she retired, she joined the Harbor Retreads and Die Hards Senior Leagues at Aberdeen Rec and Montesano Lanes. She enjoyed reading, playing cards, scrabble, crossword puzzles and baking. She was well known for her pies, especially wild blackberry. She enjoyed watching the Seattle Seahawks and Mariners, and going to see the Mariners play at Safeco Field. A real nut at Christmas time, she decorated the home lavishly, and made many special Christmas decorations for her family and friends. She was a member of the Aberdeen VFW Auxiliary 224, Aberdeen Eagles, Grays Harbor Women’s Bowling Association and the Washington State Retired Teachers.
She was preceded in death by her husband of 57 years; her parents; brother, Charles “Buddy”; and sister Claudie. She is survived by two daughters, Jenny (Larry) House, and Nancy (Dale) Benner; a son, Mark (Carol) Larson; 10 grandchildren, Shawn Murphie, Ariel Murphie, Kelly Hogan, William Benner, Cameron Benner, Emily Ann Pratt, Lisa Ross, Kevin House, Lynsi Polanco and Matt House; and five great-grandchildren; and a very special niece, Betty Reeson and her family.
A celebration of Mary’s life for friends and family will be held at 1 p.m., Saturday, April 5, 2014, at the Aberdeen Eagles. A private family service will be held at Fern Hill Cemetery. The family suggests memorials may be made to PAWS of Grays Harbor, P.O. Box 451, Aberdeen, WA 98520. A card of condolence with a message or a memory may be sent to the family at www.fernhillfuneral.com. Arrangements are entrusted to Fern Hill Funeral Home of Aberdeen.