Norfolk - Mary Wheatley Ranger Scripp, musician, teacher, and realtor, died December 8, 2013. She was 87 years old.
Scripp was born to an inventing family in Montclair, New Jersey. Her grandfather, Isaac Newton Lewis, invented the Lewis Machine Gun (used by the Allied Powers in World War I) and her father, Richard Howland Ranger, garnered many patents, including one for a precursor to today's facsimile machine, and important awards, including an Oscar for his innovations in sound recording technology in partnership with Les Paul. Richard Ranger was an avid organist and conductor. Mary's mother, Laura Lewis Ranger, was a teacher and actor. Mary herself was an accomplished pianist, trumpeter, vocalist and arranger.
In 1944 Mary enrolled as a music major at Oberlin College. There, she met her first husband, then Lieutenant John Scripp III, a fellow trumpeter in the college big band. Mary and John were married in 1946 and raised their three children, John, Lawrence and Kenneth, near navy bases in Rhode Island, Virginia, Massachusetts, Florida, California, Washington, D.C., and London (Wimbledon), England, but the family finally settled in Norfolk in 1960. Wherever they went, the couple continued to play in big bands, sometimes in their own home. Mary sang with several small ensembles for which she created many original arrangements.
Mary and John Scripp divorced in 1967. Years later, Mary enrolled in Old Dominion University, where she met her second husband, Willard Frank, Jr., a longtime member of the university's History Department. Mary and Will were active members of the Unitarian Church of Norfolk (where Mary accompanied the choir) and politically active members of the community. Mary was a co-founder (with Minette Cooper) of Young Audiences in Norfolk, and had a second career working for Nancy Chandler and Associates, selling homes in her own neighborhood, Colonial Place. In addition to teaching piano, Mary was a devoted appreciator of the arts and culture; she and Will were long-time subscribers to the symphony and the opera. When Mary's dementia curtailed most other activities, her enthusiasm for music and performance never flagged. She and Will studied the output of one classical composer after another, listening to hundreds of recordings while Will read aloud from the composers' biographies. Mary's musical acuity, her appreciation for food, and contact with her loving family, friends and caretakers remained a constant and joyous connection to life that was never fully diminished by severe neurological disease.
Mary is survived by her sons, Lawrence Richard Scripp (named for Mary's parents) and Kenneth Scripp, and by her beloved granddaughters, Ashima Scripp and Miranda Scripp. In addition, Mary leaves behind loving caretakers of many years, Bob and Bruce Magee, Verazola Hargrove, Christine Pledger and Barbara Fentress.
A short service to commemorate Mary Scripp will be held at the Unitarian Church of Norfolk on Sunday, January 19, 2014 at 12 pm. The family has requested that, in lieu of flowers, memorial contributions in Mary's name be made to: Young Audiences of Virginia, 420 North Center Drive, Suite 239, Norfolk, VA 23502.
Published in The Virginian Pilot on Dec. 13, 2013