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Mary Ursula Coleman ’37

A picture of Mary Coleman

Mary Ursula Coleman ’37, March 16, 2011, in Rowlett, Texas. Mary's father, Matthew J. Coleman Sr. ’21, attended classes at Reed as a day-dodger until the influenza epidemic of 1918 hit Portland. To contain the spread of the disease, college officials prohibited day-dodgers from coming onto campus. This interruption in Matthew's college career was sufficient to terminate it. However, he built a home near Reed, hoping that his children would attend the college. Mary and her sister and brother, Ellen Coleman Simpson Gruetter ’36 and Matthew J. Coleman Jr. ’39, fulfilled his dream. Mary had a passion for art. She began drawing at age 6 and went to Saturday morning art classes at the Portland Art Museum. At Washington High School, she took all the art classes she could squeeze in, then attended the Museum Art School, studying drawing and painting, watercolor and ink, and pottery, in a combined program with Reed. She studied calligraphy with Lloyd Reynolds [English and art 1929-69] and did a painting for her thesis, "An Easel Painting: A Portrait Study of My Sister." Mary was on student council and also chaired the committee that planned Friday night dances in commons, which she thoroughly enjoyed. After graduation, she worked for the National Youth Administration and then married Harold L. Tivey ’38. They had two daughters and a son. Harold served in World War II and later became a radiologist. Mary and Harold divorced in 1959, and Mary supported herself by teaching art, primarily at Cleveland High School; she retired in 1976. “I awoke on the first morning of retirement and said to myself, 'Ah, what do you want to do? Really want to do?' And that is when I started drawing and painting again.” She designated one bedroom of her apartment as a studio and painted in oil and watercolor, which she exhibited in numerous shows. Mary painted and danced until pain from arthritis prevented her from doing so. At age 80, she performed a Viennese Waltz Gold Level III at the Portland Rose Showcase and Medal Ball. Mary said that her interest in the subjects she studied at Reed never waned. She read Scientific American and Science News Weekly as a pastime. “Reed was, has been, and continues to be the most exciting place for the human brain. It built my life.”

Appeared in Reed magazine: September 2011

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