Mary Frances Palmer VanDewalli, age 89, passed away peacefully on December 13, 2019 at Legacy of Long Meadow Assisted Living in Richmond, Texas. Visitation will take place from Noon to 1:00 p.m. on Thursday, December 19, 2019 at J. Levy & Termini Funeral Home in Galveston with a Memorial Service immediately following at 1:00 p.m.
Mary was born in Beaver, Oklahoma on April 27, 1930 and attended the University of Oklahoma where she met the love of her life, Jack VanDewalli. They married on April 27, 1951 and settled in Galveston in 1952. Mary worked as an insurance broker with Seinsheimer Insurance before joyfully becoming a full-time mom and raising their four wonderful children.
An excellent cook, Mary also developed many other interests outside the home and in the community. She was a member of Galveston’s Garden Club, UTMB’s Hurricane Preparedness Committee, the GISD committee that integrated Central High School and Ball High School, completed the Citizens Police Academy, and volunteered many times as precinct supervisor for voter polling locations in Galveston.
An integral part of her volunteer service was with the American Red Cross serving in both the Galveston Unit and nationally. She served as the local Disaster Services Chairwoman for many years, working in the aftermath of hurricanes Jerry, Camille and Alicia as well as traveling throughout the region training others in mass care for disasters. She received the Clara Barton Award for longtime volunteer achievement with the American Red Cross in 1991 and was also recognized as a Galveston Unsung Hero that year by the Galveston Daily News for her work with the Red Cross. In 1994 she received a Red Cross service medal for giving more than 500 hours of service over 5 years.
Other than her family and community service, Mary was passionate about playing bridge, playing golf and bird watching. She became a Life Master Bridge player before the age of 30, winning many tournaments in the American Contract Bridge League, serving as the American Contract Bridge League tournament chair in 1975 for the Galveston Duplicate Bridge Club and traveling to Mexico for tournaments and also teaching others to play bridge.
She and Jack loved being early stockholders of the Galveston Country Club, and Mary proudly held locker number one in the women’s locker room up until her passing. She was the Galveston Country Club Ladies Champion in both 1971 and 1993 and served as the Golf Association President twice. She was proud to brag about her hole in one achieved on the 11th hole on January 11, 1991 at the Galveston Country Club. Once their children were grown, she and Jack spent many of their yearly vacations traveling throughout the U.S. golfing at as many courses as they could. An animal lover, she particularly loved bird watching and researching the different species native to Galveston, taking the opportunity to watch them in the wild whenever possible. She also developed her artistic talents throughout the years, crafting and painting and continually learning through art classes at both Galveston College and the Galveston Arts Center, and continued to travel including on several Caribbean cruises to Mexico and to Barcelona, Spain.
She was preceded in death by her beloved husband Jack Elton VanDewalli, her parents Frances Cafky Palmer and William Quinn Palmer, her brother William Bruce Palmer, and by her son Michael Quinn VanDewalli.
She is survived by her daughter, Donna V. Stall and husband Michael of Sugar Land, Texas; daughter Carol V. Anselmo and husband Ron of Houston, Texas; and son John P. VanDewalli and wife Kathy of Galveston, Texas; granddaughter, Vanessa VanDewalli of West Palm Beach, Florida; grandson, Ryan P. VanDewalli of Galveston, Texas; and many, many friends.
Special thanks to Dr. Barbara Thompson for her many years of care, and to Mary’s caregivers Michelle, Irene, Perla and Itzel and all the caregivers at Legacy at Long Meadows Assisted Living in Richmond, Texas, for their care and support.
Memorial donations may be made to the American Red Cross, the Galveston Island Humane Society, or the charity of one’s choice.
To send flowers to Mary's family, please visit our floral section.