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Mary McCain Rossborough ’49

September 21, 2021, in Danvers, Massachusetts.

During her childhood, Mary’s family moved frequently following her father’s work for the FBI. During the Second World War, they settled on a farm near Portland, but that early movement formed the backbone of Mary’s early education. By observing people in different parts of the country living under different conditions, she gained an appreciation and respect for the diversity in which we live.

Mary graduated early from Oregon City High School, and because her father was opposed to her going away to college, she started at Reed. It was not an easy adjustment.

“Lacking in self-esteem, I felt completely snowed by Reed and its high-powered students, especially those from the East and the Chicago North Shore suburban high schools,” she remembered. “Those students seemed self-confident and possessed the knowhow to navigate the Reed system. I felt as if I didn’t even know the name of the game, especially in discussion groups, where I rarely opened my mouth. Nevertheless, I was awed and excited at the new world of learning and experiencing and thinking I was exposed to at Reed. The humanities courses opened up a whole new world.”

She left Reed after two years and started prenursing courses at the University of Washington before dropping out to marry David Moment ’50, whom she had met at Reed. They completed their education at Roosevelt College in Chicago—Mary earned a bachelor’s degree in education—while living with David’s parents in Oak Park. The couple adopted two children and divorced after 22 years of marriage.

Mary would go on to earn a master of education from Boston University and a doctor of education from Boston College. Over the years, she worked numerous office jobs and was a welfare worker in Chicago and an administrative assistant to the head of the psychology department at Boston College. She taught school for 14 years in the Waltham school district, first in the primary grades and then remedial reading in junior high.

In 1978, she married Robert Rossborough. She took an early retirement from teaching and moved to Marblehead with Robert. They traveled extensively until his death in 1998.

Mary volunteered as a tutor at an adult literacy center. “It is rewarding to work individually with adults with learning disabilities who either had little schooling, or were not given special attention to their needs while in school,” she said. She also volunteered with Neighbor-to-Neighbor, and became interested in the issue of income distribution.

“I saw what was happening to the wealth and income distribution in this country and joined United for a Fair Economy to learn about ways to educate and activate others on this issue,” she said. “This morphed into concern about the growing poverty in developing countries, which have seen a concentration of wealth for a few but poverty for the rest due to the policies operating in ‘globalization.’ Reed gave me a broadened base and wider outlook on possibilities and led to my current activism.”

Mary was active at the Lifelong Learning Institute of Salem State University for 16 years,  teaching and taking classes. She was predeceased by her two children, Rebecca Homans and Peter Moment.

Appeared in Reed magazine: March 2022

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