Her collard greens are just now coming on in the garden she loved to tend. She cooked most of what she grew and was well known as a wonderful cook.

Mary Ann Monford of Charlotte died Feb. 8, 2012 at home. She was 64 and had cooked for the children of Albemarle Elementary School for 10 years.

She left tiny Ellaville, Ga., for the big city of Atlanta when still a teenager. She had suffered the pain and indignities of integration when she’d had rocks thrown at her. In Atlanta, she marched with Martin Luther King when sticks and teargas interrupted his peaceful rallies.

Mary Ann found a job as a waitress and met Sergeant Paul Anderson. They were married in June 1966 and were blessed with Paula, Jayne and young Paul.

The family enjoyed military living and spent years in Italy and Germany. They settled in Colorado Springs, Colo., for Paul’s last station, where daughter Latasha was born. After a divorce, Mary Ann moved in 1997 to Charlotte, where Jayne was going to college.

“She was young at heart,” Latasha said. “You could not tell her she was 64 – she was always running around doing everything with her grandkids.”

Mary Ann had a heart as big as all outdoors, and it showed when she knew some students likely would not have supper one night. She sneaked food into their backpacks, Paula said.

An amazing cook

Mary Ann welcomed visitors with a home-cooked meal. “She was an amazing cook,” her daughter said. “She could cook soul food or Korean and was famous for her sweet potato pie and banana pudding.”

Friend Connie Dominguez said, “We have so many great memories of your mom. She always made us feel at home when we visited, like we were part of the family.”

“She valued education,” said Paula, a pathologist. Jayne is working on a degree and Latasha is studying to become a respiratory therapist.

Her five grandchildren are high on Mary Ann’s list. “She made sure their clothes were ironed for the week and that they got tutoring,” Paula said. “She wanted the best for all of us.”

Mary Ann absolutely adored and showered unconditional love on her grandchildren, the family said. She bought everything from diapers to shoes for Jayne’s kids, she said.

Spunky personality

“When people remember her, they’ll know that she never held anything back. She would say what other people think but wouldn’t say. She had a spunky personality and a good sense of humor,” Paula said.

“She was always such a happy person that brightened everyone’s day,” friend Alexandra Steele wrote in Mary Ann’s online guestbook.

Mary Ann enjoyed sewing and loved to cook: “Cooking was her thing. She liked Bingo, John Wayne’s western movies and was an Andy Griffith fan. She loved to dance. Mom was very stylish – she was a dresser… She was a great mother and a phenomenal grandmother,” Jayne said.

And we think that’s how Mary Ann Monford would choose to be remembered.

Editor’s note: This is our series called Lives That Matter. Written by Charlotte writer Gerry Hostetler, this weekly feature will profile individuals, recently deceased, who had a positive impact on those around them. Email editor@qcitymetro.com.

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