Mary Richardson passed away on September 9th, two months short of her 104th birthday. She was born Mary Catherine Reid on November 12, 1919. She graduated from Glendale High School in Los Angeles and earned her BA degree in geography from UCLA in 1941. She worked as a clerk at Lockheed Aircraft Company until 1943 when she joined what became the Women’s Marine Corps. She was trained to be an air traffic controller and served at the El Toro and El Centro airfields. She earned the rank of Sergeant and was honorably discharged in 1945.
She returned to Lockheed in 1946, where she worked again as an air traffic controller until the FAA assumed management of those positions around 1952. She chose to stay with Lockheed as an aircraft flight dispatcher until her retirement in 1978.
In December of 1947, Mary wed Joe F. Richardson. During their marriage, she joined Joe in fishing, hiking, and camping throughout California and the Pacific Northwest. After Joe died in early 1968 from a malignant spinal tumor, Mary continued to camp at their favorite spots in Yosemite National Park.
She discovered Bainbridge Island thanks to a male companion from northern California who moved here for a time. Although she had spent her life in Ventura, California, Mary loved Bainbridge Island and in 1979 she made her home at the Winslow Park Condominiums. In her early days on the island, she would often bike into Seattle. In her trusted 1978 VW camper van, she was often seen driving around Bainbridge Island. She continued to hike and camp into her eighties, mostly in the Mt. Jefferson area as well as various spots in the Olympic National Park. She had been a volunteer for the Sierra Club as well as the Washington Trails Association. Throughout her life she enjoyed listening to classical music, NPR, public television, knitting, and sitting in the sun. She was a voracious reader, donating over 600 books to the Bainbridge Island Library.
She was a member of the Bainbridge Racquet Club, which later became the Bainbridge Athletic Club, where she continued to play doubles tennis, twice a week, until she was almost 95 years old. With her former neighbor and friend of 23 years, Karen Anderson, she enjoyed various “hikes” into her early 90’s around the island, including Gazzam Lake, Fort Ward, Bloedel. Also, hikes to Shi Shi Beach, Cape Flattery, Hurricane Ridge, Cougar Mountain, as well as Mt. Rainier on Sunrise and Paradise trails.
In 2016, she moved to the Wyatt House, where she especially enjoyed her friendship with Eleanor Garthwaite. When asked, Mary would say the secret to her long life was “two gin-on-the-rocks” daily and “lots of garlic”. At 103, however, she attributed it to “my DNA” (and her grit). Her attitude was that death was not an option and she was determined to know “what will happen next!”
Her cause of death was late age onset of Parkinson’s Disease and the related memory issues. She will be interred at the Los Angeles National Cemetery next to Joe. Donations in her memory may be given to the National Parks Conservation Association.