Mary Jeanette Stanley
Mary Stanley, 74, a beloved mainstay of the Shepherdstown community, passed away on August 28, 2020, following a tragic automobile accident south of Berryville, Virginia. Her loss is deeply felt throughout the region by so many whose lives were enriched by her unmatched generosity and kindness.
Mary was a truly exceptional, wonderful human being. She projected a personal magnetism and warmth that drew people to her, making everyone, young or old, new acquaintance or longtime friend, happy to be with her and often moved to seek her counsel. Her interests were extraordinarily broad, but she was no dilettante. Whether the subject was old English literature, classical music, history, theater, politics, gardening or cooking, Mary’s breadth of knowledge seemed encyclopedic and she easily conversed on these topics and more at just about any level. That she was a strong supporter of local libraries, book clubs in Shepherdstown and Charlottesville and was active in three garden clubs, the local film society and an investment club only provides a glimpse into her portfolio.
The word, “active,” as applied to most people, falls woefully short of describing Mary Stanley. When she and her husband, Bob Smith, moved to Shepherdstown in 1995 after successful careers in business, she dove into local affairs with typical passion. She was not driven by ambition for offices or titles, but instead took satisfaction in doing good things for all kinds of people. She served on the Board of the Men’s Club (now Community Club), playing major roles in the annual Back Alley Garden Tour and Tea and working tirelessly to rescue Morgan’s Grove Park from decline. She volunteered regularly at the local book sale fundraisers.
Hardly a festival or parade took place but that Mary’s name was prominent among the organizers and participants. Her knowledge of history drew her into the Jefferson County Historical society and led her to volunteer frequently at the Shepherdstown Visitors’ Center as well as the Trinity Thrift Store.
Though she had no children of her own, Mary enjoyed a natural affinity with young people. Around ten years ago she began working with the Boys and Girls club of the Eastern Panhandle, which provides a wide variety of services to hundreds of needy children at three centers in our local region. She and Bob cared deeply for these children, giving much of themselves and also bringing in other resources such as participants in the Speak Story program.
With all of the above, one might picture a good, but driven person having little time to smell the roses – and that would be wrong. She was a wonderful gourmet cook and enjoyed nothing more than a long evening with friends — lots of friends! She was entertaining, she was witty, warm-hearted and utterly sincere. Whenever a friend proposed a travel adventure she was first on board, including among others to France, Ireland, India, Trinidad and Scotland. She spent many summers in Maine and so was so often in Charlottesville that it became her second community.
Mary Jeanette Stanley was born in Wichita, Kansas on February 9, 1946 to Evelyn and Lee Stanley. Growing up there, she pursued her formal education at the University of Kansas earning a BA in Russian Literature. She went on to complete an MA in Library Science at the University of Maryland. Her early career was spent with Harry Diamonds Labs in Huntsville, Ala. and in Washington, D.C. Later she worked at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Mary and Bob met in 1972 and were married October 17, 1974. In 1983 they founded Qualitas, Inc., as a high-tech startup. Over the next 10 years they grew the company to 70 employees at Headquarters in Bethesda, Md and an office in Brussels, Belgium with five more, marketing computer software worldwide. After retiring they took up residence in Shepherdstown in 1995.
Mary is survived by her loving husband of forty-five years, Bob Smith. A Celebration of Mary’s life will be scheduled at a later date.
The family requests that memorial gifts be directed to the Boys and Girls Club of the Eastern Panhandle, P.O. Box 1184, Martinsburg, WV 25402. See website at www.bgcepwv.net.