Mary Jean Gleason |

Mary Jean Gleason

Contributed report
Aspen, CO Colorado

Mary Jean Gleason died at home in the early hours of June 8, 2008, of bone cancer. She wishes to be remembered as someone who loved God, her husband and family, and her life in Colorado and on her travels.

Born May 13, 1923, in Denver to Ward and Eugenie Leonard Anthony, Mary Jean was the second of five children. The family home on Java Court was a hub of neighborhood activity, which suited and shaped her gregarious nature.

She received a Catholic education at St. Dominic’s in elementary school and Holy Family in high school, where she was editor of the yearbook and the school newspaper. In 1941, she entered college at Denver University (DU). The next summer, commuting by trolley car, she worked at Foss Drug in Golden. There she met her husband, George W. Gleason, a student at the Colorado School of Mines.

On one of their first dates, George took Mary Jean skiing at Berthoud ski area, an activity that would knit together generations of the family for decades to come. Mary Jean continued her studies at DU until George was drafted in the Navy in November 1943. A marriage was quickly arranged, and the two wed at St. Dominic’s on Dec. 29, 1943.

Mary Jean gave birth to her first child in January 1946, in Oakland, Calif.

With the onset of peace, the couple returned to Colorado. They moved to Wheatridge and added to the family.

In 1961, the Gleasons used an inheritance to buy a lot on Ute Avenue near the base of Aspen Mountain, and that summer they built a small vacation home. Every other weekend for the next 25 winters, they packed the family and gear, and headed for the slopes. Family friends were invited along, and the “cabin in Aspen” became a social hub for the family.

Mary Jean bore the last of seven children in September 1962.

In 1965, the family moved to Boulder. When her youngest marched off to kindergarten, Mary Jean was determined to complete her own education. She entered CU-Boulder and earned high marks and a B.A. in journalism in 1970. She modernized her name to “Mary,” without the Jean, and found a job.

At the Acacia Fraternity paper, she became the first female to edit a fraternity publication and the first to be “knighted” into the brotherhood. Meanwhile, she continued studies for a master’s degree in journalism, which she earned from CU in 1978. From 1974 to 1977, she worked for the Colorado Centennial Bicentennial Commission and was promoted to public relations director, one of the top PR jobs in the state at the time. Next she worked PR for RTD in Denver, during the planning stages of the 16th Street transit mall. Finally, she joined the public information office at CU. She retired from there in 1985.

Mary was a 35-year member of the National Federation of Press Women and Colorado Press Women. In the early 1980s, she served as NFPW’s president.

In 1985, the couple retired to Aspen and took up an active lifestyle of skiing, hut trips and hiking. They traveled extensively in their motor home and to Elderhostels across the U.S. and abroad. Mary gave her talents to the CU Alumni Association and the Pitkin County Senior Center.

Mary skied until her late 70s. In 2005, after 45 years, the Gleasons sold their beloved home in Aspen and moved to a Boulder retirement community, where Mary chaired the hospitality committee and led water aerobics classes for her neighbors.

She is survived by her husband of 64 years, George, and her children, Judy (Tom) Wright of Denver and Albuquerque, N.M., Jim (Karen) of Chicago and South Bend, Ind., Bob (Penelope Place) of Telluride, Nancy (Greg) Warren of Denver, Pat of Boulder, Marilyn (David Batterson) of New Castle, and Gary (Cecilia Anthony) of Aspen; siblings Marjorie Atkinson of Salinas, Calif.; Ward Anthony (Betsy Crepeau) of Boulder and Redfeather, Jack (Lois) Anthony of Denver, and Sister Antonia Anthony of Denver. She was preceded in death by sister Florine Scanlan of Chicago. She has 10 grandchildren, four (soon to be five) great-grandchildren, many nieces and nephews, and numerous friends and colleagues.

Mary will be remembered for her warmth and genuine interest in everyone she met, combined with her encyclopedic memory for people and the details of their lives. She also will be also be remembered for the supple way she navigated life’s bumpy transition, always meeting life on its own terms.

A memorial service will take place at 11 a.m. June 26 at Sacred Heart of Mary Church on South Boulder Road, in Boulder. Donations should be made in her name to the Hospice of Boulder and Broomfield County.