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Mary Louise Stecher Douthit, 95, passed away on February 8, 2023 at Judson Park where she had lived since 2017.
She was born to Dr. Robert Morgan Stecher and Florence Stecher (nee McCarthy) on March 3, 1927. She was predeceased by her sister (Sally Stecher Hollington), her brother (Robert Morgan Stecher, Jr.), and her husband of 63 years, Harold (Hal) Kenneth Douthit, Jr.
She is survived by her sister-in-law (Patsy Palmer Stecher) and brother-in-law (Richard Rings Hollington, Jr.), her four children (Harold Kenneth Douthit, III, Evan Benjamin Douthit, Lue Morgan Douthit, Susan Douthit Austin), her daughters-in-law (Toni Richmond Douthit and Ana Lucia Henrique Douthit), her son-in-law (Darrell Wayne Austin), her grandchildren (Harold Kenneth Douthit IV, Mary Morgan Austin, Clark McKendree Austin, and Lisa Goff), and six nieces and five nephews.
She enjoyed a lively childhood living on Lake Avenue in Lakewood, Ohio. There were periodic trips to dude ranches in Tucson and she loved being at Ogontz Camp for Girls in New Hampshire in her teens.
She attended Hathaway Brown School in Shaker Heights, OH, where she graduated in 1945. She debuted (twice!) at The Assembly Ball: the first time in 1945 and the second time in 1946 in what was known as “The Victory Ball.”
She graduated from Connecticut College for Women in 1949 with a degree in psychology.
After college, she headed to New York where she briefly worked for the Best Employment Agency.
The story goes that while on a date with Richard (Bud) Conway, a fellow Clevelander, she met her future husband at a party he was throwing in his fraternity at Yale. Mary and Hal were married during the Great Blizzard of 1950. People told stories about that wedding for decades, and, like Woodstock, it seemed that everyone wanted to say they were there.
Hal embarked on a newspaper career, which initially took them to Ann Arbor, Michigan, Hastings, Nebraska and Lakewood, Ohio. They eventually settled in Sandusky, Ohio, where Hal started the company that would become Douthit Communications, Inc (DCI). On several occasions, Mary would step in as publisher for one of the newspapers.
For many years, she wrote a column titled Meanderings that was published in several of the papers. She was very proud of that column and considered it one of her highest achievements. Mary designed the Sandusky home that was the Douthit homestead for 59 years. She was very engaged in local organizations. She was a co-founder of the Eric County League of Women Voters, she and Hal co-founded the Unitarian-Universalist Fellowship, and they were members of bowling leagues and bridge clubs. They were long-standing members of the Sandusky Yacht Club, the Rockwell Springs Trout Club (Castalia, OH), the Union Club of Cleveland, and Skyline Country Club in Tucson, AZ. She was a dedicated member of The Novel Club in Cleveland and loved being a member of the Intown Club.
In 1973, she received her Master of Arts Degree in College Student Personnel from Bowling Green State University.
Mary and Hal maintained an apartment in Cleveland for more than 35 years, where they attended many cultural events and kept up a lively social life. Nothing gave Mary more joy than the opportunity to throw a party. Or attend one! In the 1980’s she was on the board of the Great Lakes Shakespeare Festival, as it was known then. She was devoted to keeping up with her classmates and rarely missed a reunion. She was the chair of her 30th reunion for Connecticut College in 1979.
They also had a winter home in Tucson for 40 years which she also designed. They enjoyed travelling and visited more than 25 countries, including an African safari and a trip to the Great Wall of China. They were hard to keep track of!
They collected art wherever they travelled, and it was prominently on display in all three houses. Their extensive collection of Oaxacan artist Francisco Toledo was part of two exhibits at the Toledo Museum of Art (OH) and at The Tucson Museum of Art.
She took up genealogy and there are countless relatives in Wales and across the country with whom she corresponded. She did the arduous paperwork to demonstrate that her family descended from The Mayflower and was an active member of the Daughters of the Revolution.
She made friendships wherever she lived and travelled. You couldn’t sit next to her on an airplane and not be added to her (in)famous Christmas card list. She sent her last annual card in 2019, and there were over 600 names on that list!
Mary was an ardent scrapbooker before it was hip, and the more than three dozen scrapbooks chronicle a life well-lived. Once described as Hal’s “animated, brown-haired wife” in an article about him in the Wall Street Journal, she was always active, curious, and interested. Her motto was, “You gotta keep moving or they’ll throw dirt on you.” The associates at Judson Park will attest that she lived that philosophy until the end.
Plans are being made for a celebration later in the spring.
If so inclined, consider making a donation in her name to:
The Hathaway Brown School (https://www.hb.edu/donate);
Connecticut College (https://www.conncoll.edu/giving/):
The Tucson Museum of Art (https://12194a.blackbaudhosting.com/12194a/Annual-Fund);
The Toledo Museum of Art (https://www.toledomuseum.org/support);
The Great Lakes Theater (https://www.greatlakestheater.org/support/donate).
The best way to honor her (really) is to raise your glass at the next party you attend, and tell a story about her. We know you all have stories….
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