Deceased Name: Mary Newman Fortenberry
October 6, 1928 ~ May 30, 2015
© Holmes-Coffey-Murray Funeral Home
Submitted by: TD
Mary Fortenberry took the last step in her eighty-six-year earthly journey on May 30, 2015. And what an interesting journey it was.
Mary was born October 6, 1928 in Durant, Oklahoma. Her parents, Reta (Franklin) and Henry C. Newman, were the second generation to own and operate the family retail business, Newman Furniture, on the corner of Second and Evergreen in Durant. She was enthralled with the furniture business and was an active part of it at an early age.
Mary also had a special gift of music. She studied concert piano with a student of Bach while living in Germany.
Earning her degree in Education from the Oklahoma College for Women, Mary began a teaching career which would lead her to meet the love of her life. Even though they were both from Durant it wasn’t until she was teaching in Midwest City that Mary met Hugh Dahl Fortenberry.
This relationship literally “spanned the globe” as Hugh Dahl was called back to active duty shortly after their June 4, 1955 wedding. From the Azores Islands to the European continent, Mary and Hugh were on the go and loving it.
In 1968 these two globetrotters decided to settle down in their hometown and take up the reigns of the family business. Hugh preceded Mary in death on February 10, 2002. Mary continued to actively run Newman Furniture until her stroke in October of 2012.
She was an avid supporter and member of Downtown Durant. Market Square held a special place in her heart as did the Three Valley Museum.
A life-long member of the First Presbyterian Church in Durant, Oklahoma, Mary took pride in her active participation in all aspects of church life. From Preschool Sunday School teacher to Building Committee member, Mary immersed herself in her faith. She held the positions of Deacon and Elder. For decades she was an instrumental part of the Children’s Christmas Pageant beginning when her own children were small. She often wrote the plays and directed the children in this annual reenactment of the birth of Christ.
A Master Level Bridge player, Mary spent many hours in the company of individuals who became some of her dearest friends and most competitive rivals. She thrived on competition and enjoyed every minute of being with her friends and playing the game.
Mary cherished her sisters of the Beta Sigma Phi Sorority. For the majority of her life these wonderful women were her steadfast friends.
Mary is survived by her son Hugh C. Fortenberry and wife, Tammy; her daughter, Weslie Elliott, all of Durant; grandchildren Fallon Elliott of Norman, Oklahoma; William and Chelsea Fortenberry of Durant; Christy and Billy Hamilton, of Durant; and great grandchildren, Braden, Kasen, Hudson, and Hadley Hamilton; and her sister, Rosy Tomme. Of special mention are Becky Husen, her treasured best friend; Dortha Childs, “second daughter”; and Janelle Pierce, a dear friend and caregiver.
Memorials can be made in Mary’s memory to the Three Valley Museum 4th and Main, Durant, Oklahoma 74701.
A gathering of family and friends will be from 7-8:00 PM Tuesday, June 2, 2015 at the Holmes Coffey Murray Funeral Home in Durant, Oklahoma. Services will be held Wednesday, June 3, 2015, at 10:00 am, at the Presbyterian Church in Durant with interment to follow at Highland Cemetery (the burial will be private) with Reverend Jim Shroyer officiating. Pallbearers are Gene West, Ken Golden, Billy Hamilton, William Fortenberry, Joe Sebourn, Roy Badger and Hugh Fortenberry.
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