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Mary Cogswell Baum

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BAUM, Mary Cogswell

Mary Cogswell Baum passed away on November 12, 2012 after a short illness. Born in Marshall, TX on April 11, 1925, a few months after the death of her father, she moved with her extended family to Pasadena at the age of 2. After graduating from Wilson Junior High and Pasadena Junior College, she attended Stanford University, graduating with a B.A., majoring in theater arts, with a minor in physical education as the only way at that university to minor in dance. She also received a teaching credential. After three years teaching in the then-rural high schools of Corona and Tustin, she began work at Marshall Junior High in Pasadena in 1951. She married W. Frank Baum, a mathematics professor, in 1952. They divorced in 1975. Except for a brief period during which she gave birth to her two daughters, Mary taught speech and drama and physical education in the Pasadena Unified School District at Marshall, Pasadena High School and Wilson Junior High until her retirement in 1987. Her career included choreographing, writing and directing student shows and holiday pageants, coaching track and gymnastics teams, creating "exercise routines" for her students long before aerobics or jazzercise became popular, and creating annual slide shows of school life which illustrated her love for the students she taught. She was also a teacher of photography and costume design at Pasadena City College. She received an M.A. in theater arts from Cal State Los Angeles in 1968.

Mary was, at heart, a dancer. Her career began as a flamenco artist with the Raul de Ramirez Dance Company when she was 16. During World War II she entertained troops at smaller Southern California encampments with "soldier shows" sponsored by the Pasadena Recreation Department, as well as working as a nurse's aide. An award-winning photographer, her subject was often dancers and dance companies, and she provided publicity photos for companies both local and national.
One such photo became the symbol of the Pasadena Dance Theater ballet troupe for over two decades. Besides dance and photography, she was also a puppeteer who constructed her own puppets, and a creative artist in several media. She belonged to the National Carousel Association, helping to preserve the last remaining antique carousels. In retirement she joined the Docent Council of the Gamble House, leading tours there and at the Green and Green exhibit at the Huntington Library, and became the theater critic for, sequentially, the Altadena Chronicle, the Sierra Madre News, and the Sierra Madre Mountain Views.

Mary is survived by her daughters, Frances Nicholson (Cynthia Allar) and Sarah Baum-Lopez (Martin Lopez), and three grandchildren: Bryce Nicholson, Mary Kate Nicholson and Gabriel Baum-Lopez. Services celebrating her life will take place at 3 p.m. on Sunday, November 18 at Pasadena Presbyterian Church, 585 E. Colorado Blvd in Pasadena, the church Mary had attended since 1927. In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to the Pasadena Presbyterian Church Memorial Fund, or to the Gamble House.
Published in Pasadena Star-News on Nov. 16, 2012
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