August 25, 1938 - February 23, 2021
Raleigh, North Carolina - It is with great sadness that the family of mystery writer Margaret Brown Maron announces her death on February 23, 2021, from complications due to stroke.
Born in Greensboro, NC, in 1938 to C.O. and Claudia Stephenson Brown she grew up on her mother's family farm near McGee's Crossroads in Johnston County. A graduate of Cleveland High School, which inducted her into its Hall of Fame in 2016, she attended UNC-Greensboro, UNC-Chapel Hill, and Brooklyn College, CUNY, yet managed not to graduate from any of them. In 1958, while working in the Pentagon for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, she met a young naval officer assigned to an adjoining office who proposed a week after their first date. They married six months later. After a three-year tour of duty in Naples, Italy, they returned to his home town of Brooklyn, NY, where their only son was born. It was during this time that she gave herself a writing course from books in the Brooklyn Public Library and it was here that she had her first short story published under her maiden name in 1968 in Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine entitled, "The Death of Me."
They built a vacation home on a corner of the family farm in Johnston County and moved there permanently in 1972. All thirty of her books and most of her short stories were written there. Drawing heavily on her North Carolina roots, she was considered a forerunner in popularizing regional mysteries set far away from the mean streets of NY, LA, or Chicago.
One of the founders of Sisters in Crime, she served as its third president. She also served as president of Mystery Writers of America, which named her Grand Master in 2013. Her books won numerous national awards, including the Edgar, Agatha, Anthony and Macavity Awards, and have been taught in classes on contemporary culture and literature. In 2008, she received the North Carolina Award, her state's highest civilian honor. In 2010, she received an honorary doctorate from UNC-Greensboro and in 2016, she was inducted into the North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame.
She is survived by Joseph John Maron, her much-loved husband of 61 years; their son John Maron and daughter-in-law Andrea Cumbee Maron, and their granddaughters Julia and Natalie, all of Raleigh; her sister Edna Brown Reynolds of Garner, NC; her sister-in-law, Margaret Quaranto of Calverton, NY; the whole Sue and Carl Honeycutt clan; several nieces and nephews, and dozens of close friends.
An avid Scrabble player, she was inordinately proud of scoring three seven-letter words in an epic game with writer friends Nancy Pickard and Susan Dunlap, and she never hesitated to brag about the time she earned 311 points for the word braziers.
Before she died, Margaret Maron said, "My epitaph should read, 'She knew what she had.' I have been supremely lucky with my husband, my family, my friends and my work. Nobody gets it all, but I came pretty damn close."
Her favorite charities were, in her words, "Doctors Without Borders
; Harbor Inc. (PO Box 1903, Smithfield, NC 27577); and the Democratic Party, bless its heart." A donation to any of these would honor her memory.
Funeral arrangements are private.