Mary Lois (Leach) Harper was born February 7, 1924. She died on December 31, 2019. In between these two events of birth and death, she lived a quiet life of purpose, determination, and detail. She was a country girl, a Southern lady, a wife, a mother of two boys, an educator, a friend, and a giving person. She was born in the Okeewemee community of Montgomery County at home on the family farm. She lived her entire life in Montgomery County except for the past 10 years when she lived in Maryville, Tenn. to be near one of her sons. She had to leave the county, but she never forgot the people and the land. She spoke of them daily.
She attended Mars Hill College at the age of 16, and graduated from Woman's College of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro at 20. By 21 she was working and teaching for Troy High School, where she created the business department and transitioned to West Montgomery High School where she taught typing and office practice until her retirement in 1983. By all accounts she was an excellent teacher and assisted many students in finding employment after their graduations.
Mary was a member of Forks of Little River Baptist Church and Troy First Baptist Church. She will be buried at Forks of Little River Baptist Church cemetery along side her husband and with extended family. Graveside ceremonies will be private.
Mary married Jack Harper on August 18, 1947, after a flirtatious courtship, during which she found reasons to personally deliver deposits from the school to the Bank of Montgomery where Jack was then a teller.
They were known simply as Jack and Mary. Each worked in their own ways to better Montgomery County and Troy. Jack and Mary were also “Fishing Buddies,” with Mary often out catching Jack.
Mary was preceded in death by her husband, Jack Harper; her sisters, Estelle Allen and Nancy Venemon; and her brother, William (Bill) Leach.
Mary has two sons, Edward Harper living in Maryville, Tenn. and David Harper living in Troy. She has a daughter-in-law, Ruth Harper married to Edward Harper, and two granddaugthers, Mary Chad Harper married to Chad Siderius living in Littleton, Colo., and Hannah Harper, married to Dylan DePonte living in Maryville, Tenn.
A memorial service, “Remembering Mary,” will be held Saturday, February 15, 2020 at Troy First Baptist Church in the dining hall. The gathering begins at 2 p.m. with reception, visitation, a short service in which stories of Mary are encouraged, and music. Dress is casual. The gathering is a drop by and visit and/or join Mary’s family for the memorial service. Friends, former students, and community are welcome.
Mary died in Maryville, Tenn. of natural causes at the age of 95 years, 10 months, and 24 days. She was always detailed and particular about her accounting. She would have wanted these numbers to be precise.
Rest well Mom. You were a remarkable lady and a good mother.
We love you dearly.