August 20, 1928 – May 16, 2017
A beautiful smile and immensely loving heart left this world May 16, 2017 when our Mother passed away. Mary Louise Margaret (Neylan) Lucas was born in New Jersey in 1928 to Agnes and William Neylan. She grew up in the small town of Ardsley, New York – a childhood she recalled with much happiness, even though the first 18 years of her life encompassed the Great Depression and WWII.
Mary Lou knew from a very early age that she wanted to be a nurse and pursued her dream at Columbia University School of Nursing. While volunteering at a Red Cross blood drive table, she caught the eye of a young medical student, William Lucas. She was fond of saying that it’s amazing how one moment can change the course of your life, and this was the one moment she always referred to. After dating for a year, Bill and Mary Lou decided to elope because student nurses weren’t allowed to be married and Bill was starting his internship and residency and only had one foreseeable week off for years. So they married June 4, 1949, had their honeymoon, and lived during the week in their student dorms. The weekends were exciting though.
Bill joined the Medical Corp of the U.S. Navy after medical school and Mary Lou joined the "Navy Wives Club". Over their twenty years in the Navy, Mary Lou and Bill had five children and moved over twenty times, stationed throughout the country and in the Philippines. How she moved a family of seven so many times, even during the years they were mostly cranky teenagers, we do not know but she did it beautifully. When her youngest child was in elementary school, Mary Lou went back to work as a nurse and later, when she saw the empty nest approaching, went back to school to earn her degree in social work and worked at a battered women's shelter in San Diego for many years. After retiring from the Navy, Mary Lou and Bill stayed in San Diego when Bill joined the UCSD Medical School faculty. Mom became an avid sailor and first mate on their sail boat and they enjoyed exploring the California coast together.
It was on a trip back from Portland in the ‘80s that Mary Lou and Bill stopped for the night in Ashland. While Dad napped, Mom walked around Ashland and fell in love; once again their lives changed in an instant. They retired to Ashland in 1988 and for Mom it was a chance to put down roots after so many, many moves. She found great joy in volunteering and working in her new community. Mary Lou was an active member of Peace House, WILPH, the Unitarian church, Women in Black, Friends of the Animal Shelter (FOTAS), and probably many other groups we aren’t aware of. She was also able to nurture her artistic talents for drawing and watercolor painting. Mom and her beloved dog, Bravo, enjoyed many years of walks, sometimes joined by Emily the cat. Mom made many wonderful friends; she cherished her Book Club and the private meditation group she was in for twenty years. Our thanks to Margay, Ann, Sarah, Helena, Hillevi, Shirley, and Dolores who kept Mom’s meditation glow going to the end.
We are grateful that we were able to care for Mom at home during her last weeks, with the incredible support provided by Asante Home Hospice, especially Patty, Robin, and Olina. And we couldn’t have done it without Mom’s special friends and caretakers, Carrie and Louise. Sonya and Mellow were her faithful purring companions until the last. But most crucial to Mom’s last happy years was her daughter, Megan, who provided the loving environment that, right up to the end, kept Mom smiling her beautiful smile.
A memorial service and celebration of life for Mary Lou will be held at 2:00 p.m. June 4, 2017 at Mountain Meadows in the Mt. Ashland Room with a reception to follow. Memorial contributions in honor of Mary Lou may be made to FOTAS or Asante Hospice.