Mary Newland Clary

Mary Newland Clary

Mary Newland Clary, 86, died peacefully on her sleep early Monday morning. She is survived by her four children, Dr. Cathryn Clary, William Clary PhD., Thomas Clary, and James Clary. Born in 1927, Mary spent her childhood in Balboa Heights; the Panama Canal Zone where her Father worked in shipping. Mary graduated with honors from Balboa High School and with WWII just ending; she attended Vassar College and graduated with a Bachelor's degree in history. Upon graduation she moved back to Panama and eventually met and wed Dr. William Clary who was stationed in the Canal Zone serving in the Army.

Mary and her husband eventually moved to Springfield to raise their family. Raising four children did not deter Mary from continuing to pursue her great passion; history. She was particularly interested in African American History. When the civil rights movement began in the early 1960's, Mary returned to school and received her Master's Degree in history from what is now Missouri State. She went on to attend Washington University in pursuit of her doctorate.

Mary is probably best known to local historians for the paper she researched and wrote for her Master's Thesis. The paper, entitled An Easter Offering, recounted the harrowing event of three innocent black men, Horace Duncan, Will Allen, and Ned Coker, who on Easter Sunday, 1906, were beaten, hung, and burned on Park Central Square. In 1969, the time that her paper was submitted, very little historical research had been done on the lynching. Her paper was the first of its kind; many scholars and journalists have cited her work in their own investigations of Black History in the Ozarks. Mary donated a copy of her paper to Drury University as well as a medallion she uncovered in her research. Mary's research and eventual thesis was fueled in part by her quest for knowledge, but more importantly, it was her innate love for other people; regardless of their race, creed, or color that drove her to write about the lynching.

Her interest in history led her to join the Historic Sites Board in Springfield and she worked tirelessly to save many of Springfield's most beautiful and historic homes. These include the Lincoln School, Bentley House, and many of the homes on historic Walnut Street. Mary was also an avid bridge player and attained the points to become a Life Master. She enjoyed entertaining, gourmet cooking, rose gardening and the company of her many pets.

In addition to her four children, she is survived by seven grandchildren; Matthew Schweizer, Christopher Schweizer, Julia Schweizer, Stephen Schweizer, Andrew Clary, Matthew Clary, and Kenneth Clary and four great-grandchildren.

There will be a celebration of Mary's life this Saturday, April 26th from 3 to 5 pm at University Plaza in the room. Anyone who knew Mary is invited and encouraged to attend. In lieu of flowers the family has asked to please make a donation in Mary's name to the Springfield Museum of History, P.O. Box 2963, Springfield, MO 65801.




Published in the News-Leader on Apr. 23, 2014