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Mary Strong

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Mary Strong Obituary
Mary Strong
Mary Leonard Strong, 87, community leader, social worker, beloved wife and mother, died October 19, 2012 in her home in Ventura, CA. Born Mary Elizabeth Leonard in Washington, DC on December 17, 1924 to parents Amy Heslar and William Michael Leonard, Mary was strongly influenced by her family's faith. Her mother, a teacher, instilled in her a love of education, particularly literature, history and music. As a child of the Depression and a teenager coming of age during World War II, Mary showed an early interest in voluntarism and community. She was active in the Girl Reserves at McKinley Technical High School in Washington, D.C., where she graduated with honors. In 1942 she entered American University, and was initiated into Alpha Chi Omega sorority. She graduated in 1946 with a B.A. in Sociology and moved to Bay City, Michigan, where she was Director of Teenage Programs for the local YWCA. In 1948 she entered the University Of Minnesota School Of Social Work, and obtained her M.S.W. She was hired by the YWCA in San Francisco as Director of Young Adult Programs, and four years later relocated to Los Angeles and worked for the Church Welfare Bureau until 1957. In Los Angeles, Mary became active in political causes and campaigns. Through the Adlai Stevenson presidential campaign she met James Knox Strong, a dynamic young teacher and political organizer. Mary and Jim were married on April 13, 1957. In 1959 she gave birth to a daughter, Judith Eleanor and in 1961 had a son, James Knox Strong, Jr. After Jim Jr. graduated from kindergarten she began a long career with the Los Angeles County Department of Children's Services as a Program Specialist. When she retired from Los Angeles County in 1992, Mary received widespread recognition for her years of dedication and service. She was active in Camp Fire Girls for many years and served as President of the Los Angeles Council of Camp Fire Inc. Mary was involved in the Manhattan Beach Community Church since moving to Redondo Beach in 1973, and was a member of the American Association of University Women and the National Association of Social Workers. Mary and Jim were both involved in the Redondo Beach Public Library Foundation as fundraisers, donors and volunteers in the library's bookstore. Jim Strong passed away in December 2006, just a few months before their fiftieth wedding anniversary. In 2011, Mary moved to The Lexington Assisted Living facility in Ventura. Mary leaves behind her daughter, Judy and son-in-law, Greg of San Jose, CA; and son, Jim Jr. and daughter-in-law, Nancy of Ventura, CA. In addition to her husband, she is predeceased by her younger brother, William Michael Leonard, Jr. A celebration of her life will be held at Rice Mortuary in Torrance, CA at a later date. Interment will take place at Pacific Crest Cemetery in Redondo Beach. In lieu of flowers donations may be made to the following organizations: American Association of University Women, Redondo Beach Public Library Foundation, and Emily's List. Sign the guestbook at www.dailybreeze.com/obits.

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Published in Daily Breeze on Oct. 27, 2012
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