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Mary Cecile (Gerald) Richardson

July 14, 1930 ~ July 14, 2019 (age 89)

Mary Cecile Richardson, 89, of Fayetteville passed away Sunday July 14 at Hope Mills Retirement Center.

She was born July 14, 1930 in Marion, South Carolina to the late Flossie and Louis Gerald. Mary was preceded in death by her husband Hollis Damon Richardson Sr., and her daughter, Cheryl Richardson Futris.

Mary loved traveling, listening to music, dancing, and sharing memories with her friends. Most of all, she cherished the time spent with her children and grandchildren.

She is survived by two daughters Teresa Richardson Tosi and husband Dr. John Tosi and Lisa Richardson Waller; a son Hollis Damon Richardson Jr. and wife Vicki; fourteen grandchildren; and one great-grandchild.

The family will receive friends from 1 to 2 on Tuesday July 16 at Jernigan-Warren Funeral Home, 545 Ramsey Street in Fayetteville. A funeral service will follow the visitation at 2PM with Pastor Bruce Skipper officiating. Burial will follow at Fayetteville Memorial Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Gray’s Creek Fire Department Station 24 2661 Sandhill Road Fayetteville NC 28306

Online condolences may be made at www.jerniganwarren.com

Services are entrusted to Jernigan-Warren Funeral Home.

Mary Ceclie Gerald Richardson died on her birthday on July 14, 2019.  Born during the Great Depression in 1930, weighing just one pound, Mary was feisty, full of energy and a survivor.  At just 4’9”, Mary stood tall even as the shortest person in the room.

In her 89 years, Mary overcame challenges that would have stalled or stopped many others including the losses of her parents, brothers, her husband and one of her daughters.   

Mary’s doting father owned a convenience located near her childhood home in Marion, S.C.  Despite the hard times in which she grew up, he spared no costs in giving her a dream childhood.  In her own account, Mary would often recall the many ways he happily spoiled her.

Mary lost her parents as a teenager, both to strokes, and was taken in by her brother, Harvey, and his new wife, Gladys, with whom she lived for years.   Her older brother, Louis, died while she was still a young adult and she lost her daughter, Cheryl, in 2010.

Mary married her husband, Hollis, relatively late in life for her generation, while in her early 30s and they spent more than 30 happy years together.  She raised four children, including three daughters, Cheryl and twins Lisa and Teresa, and her son, Damon. 

Mary loved to travel and she and Hollis enjoyed excursions like cross country trips including a drive to Alaska.   She traveled with him extensively enjoying every stop along the way.  Her most common request on her journeys was to stop at Walmart stores “to see what they had.”

When her husband was diagnosed with an untreatable, incurable lung disease, Pulmonary Fibrosis, Mary was optimistic about his future and his chances at receiving a lung transplant.  She encouraged him to purchase the new RV he wanted in which to travel after his recovery.   When Hollis died at Christmastime in 1996 after weeks on life support after his lung transplant, Mary was suddenly on her own with a much different life than she had hoped.

Mary was a fighter with a zest for life and she recreated herself as a widow.  Though she had gone by her middle name, Cecile, for her entire life, she began introducing herself with her first name, Mary.  She made new friends began to enjoy traveling again, taking cruises and other trips around the world including ones to Europe and South America. She loved traveling across the U.S. to see her children, as well, with visits to Nashville and Memphis and later to Colorado.  One of her all time favorite experiences, she would tell, was going to see the Broadway play “Mama Mia” in New York City.

While traveling in Scotland a little more than a decade ago, Mary visited castles and even got to “accidentally” see Queen Elizabeth when her daughter and she boarded the wrong excursion bus that was going to the Highland Games.  Upon arrival at the games, Mary saw a black Land Rover driving on a muddy road leading to the grandstand.  As it neared her, the blacked out window slowly came down revealing the queen as she waved to Mary.  On the same trip, Mary got to know a New York Times best-selling author when he and his wife showed her around Glasgow, Scotland.  The author was writing what would become the well-known book Hamilton that later became the inspiration and basis for the renowned Broadway play of the same name.

Mary loved music and was a life-long Elvis Presley fan.  She had almost every album and single Elvis recorded and kept them after vinyl went out of style.  She would still regularly put a record on her old record player and dance around to his songs.  Her daughter, Lisa, recalls being home from school sick as a child on what turned out to be one of Mary’s saddest days -- the day Elvis died.  She went on to make several trips to Graceland, including one for her daughter, Teresa’s wedding at the Graceland chapel in 2009.  Just last week as Mary struggled with the effects of two terminal brain tumors that further deteriorated her memory and were affecting her speech, she listened to Elvis music and happily exclaimed the words “ain’t nothing but a hound dog.”

And she loved dancing.  She danced her entire life every chance she got.  As a widow, she loved to meet new people and went with her girlfriends to the VFW on weekends for dances most every weekend for many years.  When she met her longtime boyfriend, Frank, out dancing, she was so excited to share her love for the dance floor.  Mary kept a regular dancing date schedule with Frank until he died about three years ago.

Mary enjoyed so many happy, some would say lucky experiences in her life and quite frankly, expected them.  She lived with a childlike excitement and view of the world – and even as she developed dementia a decade ago, she never lost that part of her personality. Her illness required the help of a caregiver and Claire Grant came to be mom’s companion.  Mom saw Claire as her friend and enjoyed spending time with her as the two regularly made outings to the salon, restaurants and played cards almost daily. 

She also endured the tragic loss of her oldest child, Cheryl, in 2010.  Her dementia made her loss all-the-more difficult.

Having her son and his family next door to her was a Godsend and Mary would often say. “I don’t know what I’d do without Damon and Vicki.”  She loved watching her grandchildren grow and having them pop in all the time at her house bringing energy and love to her days.  Her time with them was undoubtedly her most cherished moments.  Kayleigh, Kyle, Cody, Kendall and Cade called her “Mimi” while her other grandchildren, Jack, Rachel, Lindsay, Megan, and Emerson called her Grandmommy.  Her group of grandchildren also included Matthew, Evan, Wallis and Avery.  Mary had six great grandchildren, Bailey, Hannah, Jacob, Stacy, Blake, and Kaidence. 

Mary died on her birthday on Sunday (an extremely rare occurrence that someone dies on their date of birth).  It seems fitting that her life would come to a close on the same date that her life began.  Though she was not expected to live hours, Mary lived 89 wonderful years.

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