Obituary of Mary Louise Denny
Mary Louise Denny
A Life Remembered. . .
Mary Louise Denny, age 77 passed away peacefully on Wednesday, March 6, 2019 at Heron’s Key in Gig Harbor, Washington.
She is survived by her sister, JoAnn Denny Mansfield of Kirkland, brother-in-law, John David Mansfield of Kirkland and nephew, Colin Michael Mansfield of Seattle.
Mary was born in Tacoma, Washington on April 3, 1941 to parents, Hugh and Alice Esther Oksness Denny. Growing up on Wollochet Bay in the 50’s was an idyllic time for Mary. She pursued her interests of music, home economics, church activities, skiing and swimming (at the beach in her front yard) as well as socializing with good friends.
In 1959 she graduated from Peninsula High School where she was fondly known as “Meryl” and her senior yearbook describes her as having, “an ever innocent look, but one can never tell.”
Knowing early on that she wanted to become a teacher of young children, she chose to study at Pacific Lutheran University for 2 years followed by 2 years at Central Washington State University receiving her Bachelor of Arts in Education degree in 1963.
In Yakima, Washington she launched her professional career teaching in the primary grades during the next 5 years. In her words:
“I enjoyed living and teaching in Yakima because the weather was so agreeable - sunny and dry with only 6 to 8 inches of rainfall per year. With this ideal weather, I was able to pursue my new hobby of learning to fly in addition to snow skiing with the slopes less than an hour away.”
“At my mother’s suggestion, I decided to apply for a teaching position with the Department of Defense Dependents Schools (DoDDS) overseas. My first assignment took me to northern Canada at Goose Air Base in Labrador. It was a wonderful experience for one year with lots of cold weather and snow. I was fortunate to have a classroom next to the taxi way, and with my first graders, we spent many a time running out the back door of our little converted classroom (originally a WWII barracks) to watch the many different types of aircraft either preparing for take off or taxi to the base.”
With her next assignment in Kaiserslautern Germany where she taught the primary grades at both Vogelweh Elementary and Ramstein Elementary Schools, Mary’s career spanned 4 decades. Her dedication and influence in educating over 1200 young minds during her 45 year career is noteworthy.
Mary had a great sense of humor with both adults as well as children. She loved to laugh and initiate laughter with her students. Halloween was an especially important holiday celebrated at school. Always dressed in costume, Mary would cleverly surprise everyone in memorable disguises.
In 1990 she received her Master’s in Education Degree from National-Louis University at Schloss Heidelberg, Germany.
One of the many recent sentiments from a colleague states:
“Mary was a wonderful teacher to the many hundreds of students who would pass through her
classroom throughout those decades. Year after year she provided a stellar education to all.
She was a favorite colleague who worked tirelessly to be the best in the very challenging of
circumstances of being an ‘overseas' teacher on a military base in a ‘host’ country.
Well done, Mary! May you rest in peace.”
Centrally located in Europe, she began her love of travel to many European countries with likeminded colleagues. Mary had an adventurous spirit inspired by her study of geography in elementary school during the 50’s. She developed an intense desire to travel the world. Experiencing other cultures, meeting diverse people as well as visiting fascinating places which extended to Asia and Africa was a lifelong dream.
She developed a special fascination for World War II history and attended both the 40th and 50th anniversaries of the D-Day Landing Operations at Omaha Beach, (Colleville-sur-Mer, France).
Mary’s European family was made up of teachers, students, parents of students, military and German families. During her sojourn in Germany and especially in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s when communication and transportation ‘across the pond’ was limited by distance and expense, creating close bonds and relationships with many individuals was extremely important to Mary, a social butterfly who had already created lasting friendships in Gig Harbor and Eastern Washington.
After her retirement in 2008 she returned full circle to her childhood home on Wollochet Bay where she lived quietly for her remaining 10 years apart from the last 12 days of her life. Godspeed, Mary!
In lieu of flowers her family requests donations be made to Hospice at:
PO Box 1502
Tacoma, WA 98401-9836
Arrangements by Edwards Memorial, Funerals Homes, Chapels and Crematories.