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MARY ELLEN (JOHNSON) HUNTER WATERBURY - Mary Ellen (Johnson) Hunter, age 91, a lifelong resident of Waterbury, our beloved mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, sister, and friend, passed away in the Woodridge Nursing Home, in Berlin, not long after sunset on Saturday, Feb. 22, 2014. Mary died as peacefully as she lived, surrounded by family and caregivers. Mary was born in Waterbury on May 15, 1922, the daughter of the late Bert and Gertrude (Edwards) Johnson. On Oct. 5, 1946, she joined Roy George Hunter in a marriage that brought great joy. They raised their family in Waterbury. George, as he was known to all, died much too soon on May 28, 1972. Mary was a 1940 graduate of Waterbury High School and an employee of the National Life Insurance Company in Montpelier. Following her marriage, Mary became a loving wife and fantastic stay-at-home mom. Mom was a den mother for her young sons, baked countless cookies, led cross-county ski adventures and made special birthday cakes. During this time, she also helped to care for her elderly mother. With all her children in school, Mary combined her loves of books and small children, in a 15-year career in the Waterbury Elementary School library. When the State of Vermont moved some offices to Waterbury, Mary began careers in the Department of Libraries and later in the Department of Mental Health. Always active and vital in the community, Mary volunteered for the Waterbury Ambulance Service, the Ronald McDonald House, Boy Scouts, the Waterbury Area Food Shelf, the Central Vermont Chamber of Commerce, the Central Vermont Medical Center and the Red Cross. Mary was a 59-year member of Queen Esther Chapter No.7, Order of the Eastern Star, Waterbury Chapter, having joined the Chapter with her husband on Oct. 20, 1954. Mary was elected to the offices of Associate Conductress, Conductress, and Associate Matron, and served as Worthy Matron in 1965. She also served as Star Point Martha. At the time of her death, she had served as Star Point Ruth, a total of 42 years. Mary became a member of the Past Matrons Club of Queen Esther Chapter in 1966 and had served as President. For many years, Mary was the 'Sunshine Lady' for the Chapter, sending cards and notes to members for special occasions as well as visiting the sick and shutins. Mary actively participated in all Chapter endeavors and served on many appointed committees over the years. Most recently, while at Woodridge Nursing Home, she assisted with the preparation of the 20142015 slate of Chapter officers. Mary received two Vermont Grand Chapter appointments as Grand Representative of South Carolina (1996-1998) and Virginia (2012-2014). Mary also participated in food sales with the Chapter and became locally quite famous for her homemade bread. Other memberships include the Waterbury Area Senior Citizens where Mary served on a committee to assist securing the current location, the Waterbury Congregational Church and was a member of Vermont 251 Club. In 2004, Mary founded the Waterbury Red Hat Red Roamers, serving as the Queen Mum, leading many lively social occasions. In her leisure time, Mary, who was an avid reader, enjoyed gardening, swimming, bowling, walking, concerts, completing jigsaw puzzles, playing cards, cooking, and traveling. Mary is survived by her children, Patricia Duda (Walter) of Bolton Valley, Michael Hunter (Maureen) of Acworth, Ga., and Thomas Hunter (Joy) of Haverhill, Mass.; three grandchildren, Meredith A. Howard (Donald Jr.), Roy Hunter, and Margaret Hunter; her treasured great-grandson, Donald "Tripp" Howard III; a sister, Martha Anthony (Philip) of Berlin; as well as nieces, nephews and other extended family. Mary is also survived by a wide circle of best friends, neighbors and her special dog friend, Orion, with whom she played Frisbee, even in the final months of her life. In addition to her loving husband of 25 years, Mary was predeceased by her cherished son, William Hunter; sisters, Arabella Slack and Ivis Hickory; and brothers, Dean Johnson and Carl Johnson. Mary's family extends thanks for the wonderful care and companionship she received from her caregiver, Laurie Farnsworth, and from the dedicated and talented staff at the Woodridge Nursing Home. The family also extends thanks to Mary's many friends and family members for visits, telephone calls, cards and gifts. Mary appreciated the support and kindness more than you can know and, in her memory, the family hopes that her friends will provide that loving support to those who may otherwise spend days alone. A celebration of Mary's life will be held on a date and time to be announced. Assisting the family is the Perkins-Parker Funeral Home and Cremation Service in Waterbury. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorial contributions to the Waterbury Area Food Shelf, 57 South Main St., Suite 3, Waterbury, VT 05676.

Published in The Burlington Free Press on Feb. 28, 2014
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