Mary Duffield

Obituary of Mary Buell Duffield

Mary Duffield, beloved mother, grandmother, great grandmother, aunt, and tireless advocate for peace and the potential of young people, passed peacefully in her sleep on January 10, 2015. She was 98 years young. Mary was born on August 15, 1916 in South Bend, Indiana. She was the last survivor of four Buell siblings, including sister Jane and brothers Paul and Neel. The family moved to California when she was a girl. She put herself through UC Berkeley while working multiple jobs, and gained several advanced degrees. Shortly after World War II, she and her husband Ted set off with their 6-month-old baby to homestead in Alaska, building their own log cabin. Mary taught school there and also established one of the first radio stations in the state. When she returned to California, Mary became as a high school teacher and spent many years teaching English and Journalism and Santa Cruz High. She was especially known for helping kids who were troubled or struggling to achieve their true potential. She "retired" from teaching in 1971 but was busier than ever with volunteer work, helping out in several schools and teaching kids to be ham radio operators. One of her proudest moments was arranging for kids at Del Mar Middle School to make radio contact with astronauts aboard the space shuttle Endeavor. She was also an avid sailor and lived for many years aboard her boat, the Agua Allegre, in Santa Cruz Harbor. She taught many kids how to sail through her organization The Redwood Youth Foundation. When she could no longer sail, she donated her boat to the Sea Scouts. Other volunteer activities included chairing fundraising campaigns for UNICEF as well as working at the UNICEF store, and teaching poetry at Elderday. Mary was politically active all her life, and was picketing Nazi ships in San Francisco well before the war. She later advocated for peace at many rallies and demonstrations, and was a member the Raging Grannies. In 1983, she traveled to war-torn Nicaragua as a member of the Peace Brigade. Her passion for international understanding earned her the nickname "Planetary Mary". Mary is survived by her son Ted, daughter-in-law Melissa, granddaughter Lisa, and great grandsons Jacob and Justice. She is also survived by multiple generations of nieces and nephews. Mary's ashes will be scattered in her beloved bay. There will be no funeral, but a celebration of Mary's life is being planned at a time to be announced. Those wishing to honor Mary can do so by making a contribution to UNICEF in her name.
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A Memorial Tree was planted for Mary
We are deeply sorry for your loss ~ the staff at Benito & Azzaro Pacific Gardens Chapel
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