110 W. New York Ave.
DeLand, FL 32720
Champion of world peace, DeLeon Springs State Park
posted Jun 25, 2010 - 11:21:13am
Beacon columnist Mary Smithwick died June 24, 2010, at the age of 92.
Mary spent the last day of her life in the company of her beloved only grandchild, Andon Dansberger, who flew in from Vietnam, where he has been teaching English.
She died at the Hospice of Volusia/Flagler care center in Orange City, where she had been taken June 23, at her request.
"She gave me so much knowledge about how to live my life; now I know how to face death, with no fear," her daughter, Dorothy Dansberger said.
Dansberger was at her mother's side when she passed on.
A celebration of Mary's life is planned at 7 p.m. Friday, July 2, at DeLeon Springs State Park.
Mary loved the state park, which she christened "Our Park." In all four seasons, she swam there, often in the company of an informal group who called themselves the DeLeon Springs Merpeople.
She was an active member of the Friends of DeLeon Springs State Park.
Mary was born and reared in Minnesota. She moved away when she entered college at the University of Colorado in Boulder, where she earned a degree in English.
She married and moved to California. Mary worked for many causes, often directed toward world peace and justice. She marched with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Memphis and was an active member of Amnesty International. Her service to the Unitarian Universalist Church — including her local church, Mosaic Unitarian Universalist — was among her loves.
She also lent her time and talents to community theater and women's causes, and was a strong advocate for literacy.
A quote from William F. Schulz, "The way to value our lives is ... by the extent to which we live our lives with tenderness and integrity," was always prominently displayed on her refrigerator door.
Mary moved to DeLeon Springs in 1982, after retiring from teaching.
She joined The Beacon team in 1993, and enjoyed chronicling the adventures of residents of Northwest Volusia in her column. She especially enjoyed supporting the children who attended McInnis Elementary School in DeLeon Springs by reporting on their achievements. She was the longest-running columnist in the newspaper.
In addition to her daughter and grandson, Mary's survivors include her son-in-law, Harold Dansberger of DeLand.
Lankford is handling arrangements. Mary's wishes were that there be no flowers; memorials may be sent to Amnesty International USA, 5 Penn Plaza, New York, NY 10001; Hospice of Volusia/Flagler, 3800 Woodbriar Trail, Port Orange, FL 32129; or Friends of DeLeon Springs State Park, 601 Ponce de Leon Blvd., DeLeon Springs, FL 32130.
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