Mary Frances Prothro of Washington, DC passed away peacefully at home on June 16th, 2014 following a brief illness. A native of Wichita Falls, Texas, she was born to William Harvey and Willie Gertrue Harris on July 22, 1922, the oldest of two girls. Mary graduated from Wichita Falls High School and went on to receive a bachelor's degree from North Texas State Teacher's College.
In 1943, Mary married James Prothro, a fellow debater at North Texas State. Jim and Mary lived in several different communities as he pursued a career as a political scientist and she raised their three daughters. During the tumultuous decade of the 1960s, Mary made her home in Chapel Hill, NC where she was an active voice for civil rights and progressive politics. Mary was the second woman to serve on the Chapel Hill Board of Alderman, taking the place of Adelaide Walters in what was then known as the "woman's seat" on the Board.
In 1970, following a divorce, Mary moved to Washington, D.C. where she lived out her life in her beloved row house on Capitol Hill. Mary worked for several decades as an administrative assistant at Federal Mediation and Conciliation Services, retiring from her full-time position at the age of 87. She was a long-time, active member of New York Avenue Presbyterian Church, where she focused her efforts on outreach to those who are disenfranchised. Mary was a founder and, for 35 years, guiding light of 7-2-9, a socialization program at New York Avenue for those recovering from serious mental illness. Mary was a strong-willed person of fierce loyalties and harbored little doubt that the Washington Nationals, University of North Carolina Tar Heels, and Democratic Party stood for all that is good and right in the world.
Mary was predeceased by her parents. She is survived by her sister, Billie Williams of Nashville, TN and three daughters, Pam Prothro of Atlanta, GA, Barby Prothro of East Sandwich, MA, and Susan Worley (Ron) of Chapel Hill, NC. Also surviving are four granddaughters, Katherine Worley of Chapel Hill, NC, Rebecca Worley of Durham, NC, Ryan Prothro of Everson, WA, and Maya Prothro of East Sandwich, MA and Mary's new great-granddaughter, Heaven Prothro of East Sandwich, MA, whom she traveled to meet for the first time in May. In addition, Mary was loved by many cousins, nieces, great-nieces and nephews, and countless friends.
A service to celebrate Mary's life will be held on Saturday, June 21, 1:00 p.m. at New York Avenue Presbyterian Church, 1313 New York Avenue, NW, Washington, D.C. A reception will follow at the church. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorial contributions be made to The 7-2-9 Club, New York Avenue Presbyterian Church, 1313 New York Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20005.