Mary Southall Shelburne McLaurin

Published 6:07 pm Thursday, June 19, 2014


Mary Southall Shelburne McLaurin
May 20, 1915 – June 18, 2014

Mary Southall Shelburne McLaurin, 99, a resident of River Landing at Sandy Ridge in Colfax, NC, died on Wednesday, June 18, 2014.  Born May 20, 1915 on Linden Row in Richmond, Virginia to Mary Schoolcraft James Shelburne and Victor Balmer Shelburne, she had two sisters, Emily Watson Shelburne Joyner and Louise Balmer Shelburne Satterthwaite, and a brother, Victor Balmer Shelburne, Jr.

She is survived by nieces, Emily Joyner Poteet (Jack), Jane Shelburne Fisher (Henry), Sara Lennon, Lyn McCoy (Jane Blackburn), Jane Maness (Donald), Ann Douglas, and nephews, F. Leon Joyner, Jr. (Anne), Brian J. Shelburne (Yvonne), Victor B. Shelburne III, Richard S. Lennon, Hugh L. McLaurin  (Sharon), Robert E. McCoy, Jr., and Alan H. McCoy (Audrey).

Mary grew up in Washington, NC, where she was an active member and director of the Bug House Laboratory (the Washington Field Museum), a nationally recognized natural history museum.  She attended East Carolina Teachers College (ECU), and later served as librarian at Brown Library in Washington.  She married Lt. Col. William Riddick Crawford in 1939, a West Point graduate who was killed in action in 1945 while serving in the Philippines.  Remarried in 1949 to James Leroy McLaurin (d. 1995), they made their home on the Pamlico River near Bath, NC.  Mary raised award-winning camellias on their wooded land on the river, and donated all of her hundreds of plants to the Cape Fear Botanical Garden in Fayetteville, NC, when she moved back to Washington in 1997 to care for her sister, Louise.  A lifelong member of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Washington, she was a member of the Colonial Dames, the DAR, and the O’Henry Book Club.  Mary was an avid gardener and birder, a charter member of the North Carolina Bird Club, the NC Camellia Society, the Washington Garden Club, and a life member of the Garden Club of North Carolina.  Long before it became popular to do so, Mary was an advocate for the protection and conservation of our environment and our natural resources.

The family would like to give a special thanks to the nurses and aides at the Presbyterian Home of High Point and River Landing who looked after “Aunt Mary”, the Frog Pond Gang at Presbyterian Home who took Mary in when she moved there in 2003, and the special friends in Washington who helped her there and stayed in touch after she moved to High Point.

Arrangements are being handled by Sechrest Funeral Home in High Point.  A memorial service will be held at Oakdale Cemetery in Washington, NC, at 10:30 am, Friday, June 27th.  Memorials can be sent to St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, 101 N. Bonner St., Washington, NC  27889, or The Mary McLaurin Camellia Garden, Cape Fear Botanical Garden, PO Box 53485, Fayetteville, NC  28305.  (536 N. Eastern Boulevard, Fayetteville, NC  28301.)