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Mary Woodson, St. Mary's School Secretary, Dies

Berkeley school started a scholarship in her name.

St. John Baptist de La Salle described the Lasallian mission as one that "touches the hearts of its students."

Among those in the long history of St. Mary's College High School at Peralta Park, Berkeley, who certainly touched hearts - every heart that came through the doors of De La Salle Hall and later, St. Joseph's Hall on the school campus - was Mrs. Mary Woodson, who served as school secretary for 26 years, from 1962 until 1988.  She was an El Cerrito resident for many decades.

Mary passed away peacefully after a long illness with her family by her side on Sunday, July 15. Her long career at St. Mary's included her role as the mother of two alums: Dennis, 1968 and Steven, 1970, both of whom predeceased her. Her husband, Dean, beloved by many as perhaps St. Mary's biggest basketball fan ever, died in 1996. Mary is survived by her two sisters, Dorothy and Lois Ann and their families, grandson Paul Woodson of New York (an Albany High alumnus), and her daughter-in-law, Ramona Woodson of Gilroy and her seven children.

At her 1988 retirement party on the St. Mary's campus, Mary was honored with the announcement of a new  scholarship in her name. Mary remained a faithful member of the Belles, attending every annual spring social until this year when illness prevented her attendance.

Her devotion to Saint Mary's High was deep and steadfast.  Mary and her family were a wonderful gift to the St. Mary's community.

Funeral services and burial were held Thursday, July 19 at St. Joseph's Cemetery in San Pablo.

-- Jeanne Gray Loughman

Jeanne Gray Loughman July 26, 2012 at 04:56 PM
Mary was truly an icon! I can readily think of a number of current business owners on Solano Avenue, for instance, who were in school at Saint Mary's during her time at the school and loved her dearly. She drove the coolest red Mustang fastback, and as one former teacher noted, "I think Mary could have given one of our students 200 detentions and he still would have said "Thank you, Mrs. Woodson." Mary was a longtime active member of St. Jerome Parish in El Cerrito, and her nearly-annual attendance at the Saint Mary's Crab Feed kept her busy with dozens of alumni and parents coming to her table to visit. She tried to attend the many alumni reunions that she was invited to, and was always the star of the show. I had the personal pleasure of having her as part of my own family; my parents and the Woodsons share a grandson, and it was Mary who recommended me for my first job here at Saint Mary's nearly forty years ago. A friend said at her passing that he always sensed Mary was "on loan from heaven." So true. We were all blessed by her life. Her reward in heaven will, indeed, be great.

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