Mary Ruth Wilcox Hughes, 97, of Cleveland Heights, Ohio, died peacefully in her sleep the morning of July 31, 2016. Mary was the daughter of Frank Nelson Wilcox and Florence Bard Wilcox. Her family had been among the earliest settlers of the Western Reserve, one hundred and ninety-six years ago. She was preceded in death by a daughter, Cathy Jean Hughes, a grandson, Kevin Alan Hughes, and her companion, Sidney Burke. Survivors include her children Alan Wilcox (Claudia) Hughes, Robert Bard Hughes, Barbara Ann (formerly Nomiyama) Wilcox Hughes (Mark Moerman), and Douglas Edward Hughes; her grandchildren Wendy Sumiye Nomiyama, Erin Toshiye Nomiyama (Benjamin Bentley), Justine Marie Hughes, and Bryan Edward Heverly Hughes; and her great-granddaughter, Kaia Lana Bentley.
Mary grew up in East Cleveland, Ohio and attended Shaw High School, graduating in 1937. She received a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Wooster College, class of 1941. She enrolled in the Francis Payne Bolton School of Nursing in 1942, receiving training in Nursery Care, though because of wartime need, she transferred to Lakeside Hospital to care for returning wounded service personnel. During these years she also worked at Picker X-Ray and enjoyed volunteering her time as an usher at Severance Hall. While her children were growing, Mary enthusiastically participated in all the parent activities at her children's schools. She passed along her love of music to her children, encouraging them to study musical instruments, often playing piano as they and neighbor children played in a little ensemble to whatever sheet music was on hand. She was an avid gardener and passionately enjoyed hiking and sightseeing. As her children became teenagers, she worked as Secretary to the Dean of Case Western Reserve Law School, Maurice C. Culp. After a move to Cleveland Heights in 1966, she began new employment as Medical Secretary in the office of Dr. Lawrence Leif. When Dr. Leif relocated his office, she moved on to employment as Medical Secretary to Dr. Norman Berman of Mt. Sinai Hospital in Cleveland, remaining there for fourteen years until her retirement in 1984.
With her companion of forty-five years, Sidney Burke, she enjoyed hiking, tennis, travel, ballroom dancing, and having brunch at Swingo's Downtown most weekends. She and her good friend Trudy were enthusiastic early morning swimmers for many years at Notre Dame College in South Euclid.
Mary had very fond memories of her early childhood years traveling around the United States and Canada with her parents, and especially her trip to Paris when she was six years old. They somehow survived a hurricane's 90 mph winds crossing the Atlantic in 1925 in the ship Rochambeau. Living in Paris for a year, she learned to speak French, and spoke throughout her long life of the people she met, sites she visited, and friends she made at such a young age. Most recently, Mary served as secretary of the Wooster College alumni column, class of 1941, published in the Wooster quarterly magazine. It was a great way to keep tabs on all her close friends and classmates whom she loved so dearly.
She has made many friends at Judson Park, Cleveland, Ohio, while living in the Bruening Building these last years. Her love of the creative arts has been well served by the people and resources found there. Mary's family cannot thank the staff of Judson Park enough for the excellent care that she has received. We have all benefited from your caring service.
There will be a private graveside service at the Highland Cemetery in Brecksville, Ohio, on Saturday, August 20, at 11:00 am.