Mary Copeland Gardner


Mary Annis Copeland was born in Dale, Texas, on Aug. 17, 1926, the youngest of three children, to Monroe and Ida Barber Copeland. She died in Houston on Jan. 11, 2009.

Mary grew up during the Great Depression on the family farm in Caldwell County, attending the Dale School and graduating from Lockhart High School, where she played trombone in the marching band.

p>After her father died and her brother was killed fighting in the Italian Campaign of World War II, Mary and her mother moved to New Braunfels and for a time worked together at a textile mill there.

Then, to be near Mary’s sister and her family, they bought a house next door to them in Houston, on Avenue E near Harrisburg Blvd. Mary got a job at the downtown Houston post office, where one of her coworkers was young University of Houston pre-med student Ralph Gardner. After going out together for about four years, they married on June 30, 1951.

Mary was pregnant with their first child when Ralph graduated from the Tulane University School of Medicine in New Orleans. The couple lived briefly in Louisiana and Mississippi and then in Bertram, Texas, before returning to Houston, where Dr. Gardner practiced family medicine in the Spring Branch area for many years.

Among the things Mary loved were spending time with her sister, learning to speak Spanish, which she mastered when well into her 30s, reading aloud to her children, sewing dresses for her daughter, and watching the Carol Burnett Show.

Mary Gardner was predeceased by her parents; her brother, Walton Raye Copeland; sister, Algie Mae Pearson; brother-in-law, Connie Pearson; husband, Ralph Gardner; and son, Walton.

She is survived by her children, John, Van and his wife, Sharon, and Molly and her husband, John Bellquist; grandson, Jeffrey Gardner; nephew Lynn Pearson and his wife, Beverly; and many other nephews and nieces. She was a member of the Church of Christ all her adult life.

Graveside services were held at Liberty Cemetery in Dale at 2 p.m. on Thursday, Jan.15, with Mr. Norbert Vázquez officiating.

Arrangements under the direction of Waltrip Funeral Directors, 1415 Campbell Rd., Houston, Texas, 77055. (713) 465-2525.


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