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Mary Blake


Mary Blake 1936-2010

Mary Georgina Blake (née Fuller) was born on 22nd February 1936, the daughter of Alice M. Hanlon and George F. Fuller who had married in 1935. She was evacuated to two locations in the war and got her great love of history and books from her student days at the Ilford Ursuline School.

Mary married Dennis Blake (1933-1981) at the age of 21 in 1957. They started their family when Mary was 23 and had 4 daughters. Mary and Dennis enjoyed 25 years of marriage before Dennis sadly died. Mary later met her long term partner George Ritchie. They celebrated 25 years together before Mary’s illness.

Mary loved beauty, theatre shows and the Barking & District Historical Society. She was a determined and resourceful person who lived life to the full. Following Dennis’s death she learned to drive. Mary won an award for the flowers in her front garden. She enjoyed nature and making tapestries. Mary was fond of animals, including the squirrels in Barking Park and her dogs. We will all remember how Mary took great care about her appearance and was always immaculately dressed.

Her very extensive family, including her grandchildren and great grandchild Ruby, were her great pride and joy.

Mary had been a member of the Barking and District Historical Society for about eighteen years. She was always supportive and helpful. Mary had also held a number of posts in the Society, including being elected vice-chairman in May 2010, but she will be best remembered for the memorable outings she organised with her great friend, Hilary Brunt. Mary often helped organise our regular raffles. Her partner, George, kindly donated Mary’s local history books to the Society.

Sadly, Mary was diagnosed with terminal mesothelioma in November 2009. Undaunted she arranged family holidays and left instructions for her funeral before she died in her sleep at St. Francis Hospice on 8th August 2010.

Many of Mary’s family, friends and colleagues attended her crowded funeral at the South Essex Crematorium at Corbets Tey on Thursday 19th August 2010 which was taken by the Rev. Laurence Roberts. The Barking Historical and Friends of Valence House were well represented at this celebration of her busy life. All Mary’s friends and family were invited back afterwards for refreshments at Ripple Road.

While the service was taking place a private family ceremony was being held on the Western Cape Mountain in the Southern Peninsula of South Africa, which is surrounded by one of Mary’s favourite flowers the Plumbago.

[WHG 05.05.2011]

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