Mary D. Harper, wife of H. Chandler Harper of Key Colony Beach, Florida, has died at age 82. She died of complications due to cancer on April 22 in Florida. She was admitted to the hospital a few days earlier and was alert and comfortable until the end.
An award winning and popular artist, Mary painted with oil, watercolor and pastel. Her striking watercolors and scratch boards often portrayed landscapes and portraits from the mid-Atlantic dunes to the bright sub-tropical sun of Florida Keys to the soft colors of the southwest; they hang in collections across the country. She was a member of the Bougainvillea House Gallery, the Florida Keys Art Guild, and the All Arts Council of Franklin County.
She was active in the community, chaired the "million dollar" the Chester County Day Committee of the Chester County Hospital Auxiliary (at a time when a million bucks was real money) during the United States Bi-Centennial years. She was a tolerant housewife and superlative mother-in-law.
Born Mary Elizabeth Dunning on October 1, 1919, in West Chester, Pennsylvania, she was the daughter of Wilbur G. and Ethel (Barnard) Dunning. She attended the Westtown School and public high school, matriculated at Swarthmore College, class of '40, and later studied fashion at Spring Garden Institute.
She married H. Chandler Harper on September 7, 1946, in the family garden in Westtown, Pennsylvania. They lived in Philadelphia while he attended the Wharton School before returning to Westtown.
Mary and Chan lived in Philadelphia, Minneapolis, Westtown, Tolchester, Maryland, and Key Colony Beach, but they also had incurable wanderlust. They spent 30 years boating and cruising and lived aboard in the Florida Keys for several of those years. Starting in 1948, they toured the country regularly and "moved" most recently to Gallup, New Mexico, for three months to paint and to escape hurricane season.
During World War II, Mary worked at the Pentagon for the Pennsylvania and the Southern Railroads.
Survivors include her husband of Key Colony Beach; one son and his wife, Dick and Anne Harper of Highgate Springs, Vermont; one brother and his wife, John and Claire Dunning of Lionville, Pennsylvania; a niece and nephew; two grandchildren; two great grandchildren and several grand nieces and nephews.
She was preceded in death by both parents and one great-grandson.
A private memorial service and burial at sea will be scheduled at the convenience of the family. Friends may make contributions to your local arts council or Swarthmore College in lieu of flowers.
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