Mary Helen Hale, 87, a past director of the Anchorage Community Chorus and founder of the Alaska Festival of Music, died Oct. 12, 2007, at Larchwood Inns in Grand Junction, Colo.
Her family wrote: "(She) was received into Heaven ... through the loving grace of her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. She was joyously reunited, on her husband's birthday, with dear ones who had preceded her: her father, James Carroll Parker, mother, Mollie Dear Parker, beloved husband, Dr. George Hale, and her son, John Hale and his wife, Deanna Tsiatsos Hale."
A memorial service will be at 11 a.m. Nov. 3 at the First Presbyterian Church of Anchorage. The Rev. Jim Hale will officiate.
Born Mary Helen Parker on May 25, 1920, in Merryville, La., she was an energetic and musically talented young lady who graduated from Louisiana College with degrees in English and music, followed by a master's degree in English from Louisiana State University.
While speaking at a Baptist Student Union rally as the Outstanding Student of the Year for the nation, Mary saw an interesting young man, George Hale, who had just told his friends, "That's the girl I'm going to marry!"
When he said, "Hello" to her after the meeting, they began a long-distance courtship that would lead them to marry on June 12, 1942. They would be married 57 years. Mary supported George as he completed medical school and served in the Navy during World War II, by teaching school and giving music lessons.
After the war, Mary and George planned to serve in China as missionaries but their plans ended with the Communist takeover of China.
Recruited by the Alaska Railroad to come and help build the emerging territory of Alaska, Mary and George moved to Alaska in 1949, helping to build the territory into its acceptance into statehood in 1959.
While Dr. George served in medicine and surgery, Mary devoted herself to being his wife and the mother of their three children, John, Jim and Nancy.
Despite her busy schedule, she also gave her life to building the community through her dedication to the First Presbyterian Church and her teaching of music and English at Anchorage High School.
She was one of the initial directors of the Anchorage Community Chorus and the founder of the Alaska Festival of Music. She was a charter member of the Alaska State Council on the Arts and was nominated several times as, Alaskan of the Year.
She received an honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts from the University of Alaska in 1965 for her contributions to the arts in Alaska. She worked for many years as an administrator at Anchorage Community College and the University of Alaska Anchorage, founding and directing their popular Arts Fair.
Her family wrote: "Her energy and influence were legendary. One plaque she was given honored her with the inscription: 'Before you call Washington, call Mary Hale!'
"Upon retirement, she continued with her love of gardening, being a constant friend and companion to George and enjoying her five grandchildren, Crystal, Jonathan and Michael Hale and Andy and Melissa Lee. She loved her weekly time with her church friends in the 'Margaret Walkup Circle.'
Later, she became a great-grandmother to Jason and Isaac, the sons of Jonathan and Marileigh (Meyer) Hale.
"After the death of George in 1999, she moved to Grand Junction, Colo., to live with Nancy and Jim and their families. She was dearly loved by all.
"The Hale and Lee families would like to express their sincere appreciation for the kindness and care given to Mary at Larchwood Inns through their staff and the staff of Hospice. Your compassion and friendship were very healing."
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Mary Hale Endowment Fund of the Anchorage Community Chorus, P.O. Box 103738, Anchorage 99510.