Mary Elisabeth Fryer
1924 - 2020
Mary passed away peacefully with family and very loving caregivers. Mary was born in Oakland California to Lola LaRue Porter and John W. Porter she was the middle of three sisters and the last of them to pass. Mary attended a Montessori school for her elementary years and always spoke highly of that learning experience.
Mary resided in Piedmont California through graduation from UC Berkeley in June 1945. She was the President of the senior class in 1945. She and her younger sister, Joan, managed several war rationing programs during their tenure on campus. Mary met her future husband, Wilton Bennett Fryer during summer classes as part of his studies at UC Davis, known as The Farm in those years.
Mary and Wilton were married on 26 June 1946 in Piedmont. She went from being a city girl to join him on his father's Fryer Cattle Co. ranching operations, spending time north of the town of Monticello in Napa County and several years on a ranch 20 miles east of Yerington, Nevada. They eventually settled in St. Helena in 1954, while Wilton commuted to the Monticello ranch through 1967 when the ranch was sold. Mary and Wilton divorced in 1972. He moved to Sacramento, passing away on 2 Oct 07. Mary never remarried.
Once settled in St. Helena, Mary went back to school to earn a teaching credential. She worked as an elementary school teacher at the Yountville Unified School District for 23 years, from 1964 to 1987. Mary loved teaching kindergarten and first grade; imparting methods learned from her Montessori schooling. She rose to the position of Vice Principle. Mary would tell stories of teaching children of her former students.
In 1967 Mary moved into her current home at 943 Pope Street, St. Helena, CA. Mary and Wilton are survived by their two children: Wilton Bennett Fryer Jr. born in April 1949 and Adele Fryer Johns born in June 1954. Adele and her husband, Dennis Johns, still live in the community while Wilton Jr and his wife Patricia live in the Sierra foothills near grass Valley. Mary is survived by four grandchildren and two great grandchildren.
Mary and Wilton were very active in the affairs of Grace Episcopal church and the community. This led to Mary joining the Planning Commission for the city of St. Helens in 1978. After one year she became the chairman for the next 15 years. To commemorate her work, developer Edwin Wallis created a green belt off Mitchel Drive that became a city park dedicated to Mary in 1995.
Mary did not travel much, only one trip to England with a fellow church lady. She did, however, bring the world to her house. The local wineries would bring in interns from Japan, England, and Germany and the interns would rent out a room for the summer. Mary enjoyed cooking and her garden. Some of the azaleas at her house came from her childhood home and cuttings of those same plans survive at the homes of her children.
There was be a simple grave side family gathering for her internment where she was be buried next to her husband Wilton in the family plots at the Spanish Flat Cemetery near Lake Berryessa in Napa County. A celebration in her honor is being held on Oct. 13, 2021 at the home of Adele and Dennis Johns in St. Helena. For more information please contact Adele at [email protected]