2003-07-23 / Obituaries

Mary Elizabeth Avery Work

At the age of 60 after an eight-year journey with cancer, Mary Elizabeth Avery Work passed over on Friday 18 July 2003 surrounded by her loving family at her home in Garrison. A Requiem Mass was celebrated for the repose of her soul at St. Mary-in-the-Highlands in Cold Spring on July 22.

Mary was born to Ben and Donda Avery in Phoenix, Arizona, on 27 September 1942, and attended public schools there including the first integrated high school in Phoenix. She graduated Summa Cum Laude with a B.A. in History from Arizona State University, Tempe, with her Honors Thesis on the minority peoples of China. Mary then joined the Peace Corps and served for two years in East Malaysia in a Chinese village as the English teacher.

Upon her return to the US, Mary attended Graduate School at the University of Chicago in Chinese studies. She then transferred to Chicago Theological Seminary where she met a fellow student, Moorman Robertson (Rob) Work, Jr. Mary and Rob were married in 1968 and were on the faculty of the Ecumenical Institute/Institute of Cultural Affairs in Chicago.

In 1970 they were assigned to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to direct the Institute’s programmes of theological and leadership training. In 1972 they were assigned to Seoul, Korea, where they helped establish the Institute and conducted theological and leadership training and initiated human development projects in poor, rural villages on Cheju Island and north of Seoul near the DMZ. Mary and Rob gained two sons in Korea, one by adoption, Benjamin, and one by birth, Christopher. In 1978 they were reassigned back to the US where Mary was co-director of the Institute in Dallas and then in Indiahoma, Oklahoma, where they conducted a human development project.

In 1980 Mary and Rob were reassigned to Jamaica, where they helped established and were co-directors of the Institute and initiated several human development projects in rural villages in the Blue Mountains and conducted leadership training with many organizations. In 1984 the Works were assigned to Caracas, Venezuela, where they again established the Institute as co-directors and conducted human development projects in Barlovento and Zona Zuata as well as organizational development projects.

In 1990, Mary and Rob returned to the US coming to New York City and soon moved to Larchmont and then to Peekskill. In 1995 Mary had a successful operation for ovarian cancer. Mary then received her M.S. in Family Counseling from Iona College and worked in mental health empowerment, family counseling and the Processor for the Spiritual Guild of the Wainwright House in Rye. Mary and her family moved to Garrison over three years ago and Mary led part of the US Census in the area.

Mary was a member of St. Mary-in-the-Highlands in Cold Spring and attended Dr. Jean Houston’s Mystery School regularly. Mary was predeceased by her parents Ben and Donda and her older sister Nancy. She is survived by her husband Rob, two sons Benjamin (Mt. Vernon) and Christopher and Jennifer (Garrison), her sister Marjorie Bachert (Whidby Island, Washington), mother-in-law, brother and sister-in-laws, and many cousins, Aunts, nieces and nephews.

Mary was a saintly person full of life, love and light and will be greatly missed. She was grateful for her life and gave herself to her many loves of family, friends, youth, children, the poor and all those who are not cherished. Her family and friends both near and far feel her warm presence with them daily since her passing and are confident that she is with her God in rest and celebration and will receive many new assignments bringing love and light to others.

Arrangements were made under the direction of the Clinton Funeral Home, Cold Spring, NY.


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