Mary E. Whittmore
A memorial service will be held
Monday, July 19, 2021
Gathering 10:30am ~ Service 11:00am
First Presbyterian Church Of Farmington
26165 Farmington Rd, Farmington Hills, MI 48334.
Memorial contributions may be made to the
Church Planners Training International
PMB 133 6907 University Ave Middleton, WI 53562.
Mary Whittmore went to her Heavenly home on June 19, 2021, at the age of 92. She was born to Louise and James Atcheson in 1929 in Detroit Michigan . She began developing her musical talent in elementary school at the age of nine on piano and at sixteen on the organ.
Mary attended the Detroit Institute of Musical Arts and earned a Bachelor’s degree from Wayne State in Organ Performance and Vocal Music Education. She was a lifelong learner and studied in Europe. She played concerts in several cathedrals in Europe including Spain, Austria, England, Germany and the Czech Republic. She was an honorary member of the American Guild of Organists serving in different capacities including hospitality, historical archives and the placement committee of the Detroit Chapter. They recognized her for “demonstrating a generous spirit that is ever willing to serve and reach out to the needs of others”. She also volunteered at the Detroit Institute of Arts.
Mary taught in the Detroit Public Schools for 20 years teaching K-3 and vocal music in middle and high schools. She also was a professional accompanist in the Detroit Schools.
The church was always a part of Mary’s life. She grew up in the midst of the congregation of Ward Presbyterian Church where her mother served as an Ordained Deaconess. She first played for a worship service at age 12. She has played the organ and directed choirs, both vocal and hand bell in several churches in the Detroit area. Mary’s last position as organist was at First Presbyterian Church of Farmington where she also directed the handbell choir. Mary played several spring concerts and recitals during her tenure at the church. One of her delights was overseeing the 2004 installation of the custom Reuter-Rodgers pipe digital combination organ which graces the sanctuary.
During her life, Mary taught many students piano and music. She loved to encourage and pass on her love and passion for music. As a musician, she believed music and other art forms could impact each child positively although, differently. Learning to read their needs helped her realize music could be the medium for development of their spirit and be force of change. Mary believed that music brings out the emotion in one’s heart. “It can bring a tear to one’s eye and rest for the soul”. Music was how she expressed her love to God. Being in the church, hearing God’s word and the power of music, helped her own faith in God and Christ evolve. She had shared with family the phrase from the song “There is a Balm in Gilead to make the wounded whole…to heal the sin sick soul.” She used her influence to help encourage those who need it and help them succeed in their talent.
Mary loved traveling, experiencing different cultures, and visited many different countries. One of her memorable experiences was “walking the Great Wall of China”. Her knowledge and love for history was often shared with her family and friends.
Mary had the gift of “story telling” which she drew from her wide variety of experiences of a long full life. It was a joy to friends and family especially to her nieces and nephews to share a laugh, learn a lesson and to know her better.
Mary had a great sense of humor and quick wit which was enjoyed by those around her. Her family and friends loved the fun things that she helped them experience including sharing herself and the gift of time.
She is remembered for her kindness to others especially those less fortunate. In an unassuming way she took care of a needs that she became aware of.
Mary was a dog lover from the time she was five, when her father passed away. Having dog brought her comfort at an early age and continued through her life.
When asked what she would like to say to the next generation of young people or artists she would say “Be strong, be courageous, keep playing, keep writing and pursue your passion.” Mary felt musicians in the church are to “inspire people and to glorify God”. She quoted her organ professor as saying “…. practice and practice so the music is correct, and then you will play with feeling and with soul.”
To our family, Mary was our loving Aunt who cared about each one. Even separated by distance, she made a point of keeping up with each and what they experiencing, what their interests were, and the challenges they faced.
Mary hoped that when she died that the Lord would say “well done thou good and faithful servant “and hoped that people would be blessed by her music.” As a family we believe that is exactly what happened.
Mary, thank you for your shared experiences, unconditional love, kindness, friendship and all the different roles you played for so many in your lifetime.
Thank you God, for our Aunt Mary’s life and the time we had with her. We are blessed to know she is with you hearing those words from Christ, “Well done thy good and faithful servant.”
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