BEARY--Marie A., 90, of Highland Beach, FL, former Assistant New York State Attorney General and pioneering woman lawyer, passed away on September 25. Daughter of Italian immigrants, she overcame discrimination against both her gender and ethnicity to rise to a top legal position in New York State. Mrs. Beary graduated cum laude from St. John's University, New York, Law School in 1944, into a profession that accepted women as legal secretaries but not attorneys. In the 1950s, her keen interest in politics led her to the local Democratic club. Denied full membership, she turned to the Republicans, the minority party in Queens, NY, where she then lived, establishing a lifelong party loyalty, which included several campaigns for elected office. After serving as president of the Queens Women's Bar Association, in 1960, she filed suit against the Queens Bar Association, which had denied her membership, ending an 84-year ban against women members. She was the youngest woman of her time admitted to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court. In 1964, Mrs. Beary was appointed Assistant New York State Attorney General, heading litigation in its bureau of mental hygiene. She retired from the state in 1988 and moved to Florida with her husband, Patrick Beary. In 1976, Mrs. Beary received the first Woman of the Year award from St. John's University Law School and the University's President's medal in 1994. She also received commendation from the National Association of Women Lawyers for her advancement of women's rights and was nominated to the Women's Hall of Fame. Mrs. Beary is survived by her daughters Patricia, an attorney in Glendale, AZ, and Roberta of Bethesda, MD, a haiku poet and attorney; and sons, Kevin, a professor of English at the University of Florence, and David, a retired New York City captain of detectives, currently serving with the Raleigh-Durham Airport police. She also leaves eleven grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. Her husband of 58 years, Patrick Beary, KM, died in 2005. Viewing will be held from 9am to 11am, Friday, October 4, 2013 at Lorne & Sons Funeral Home, 745 N.E. 6th Ave., Delray Beach, Florida, followed by a funeral mass at 11:30am at St. Lucy's Catholic Church, 3510 S. Ocean Blvd., Highland Beach, Florida. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to St. John's University, New York, School of Law.
Published in The New York Times on Sept. 29, 2013