Cover photo for Mary Wilshire Mead's Obituary
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1928 Mary 2020

Mary Wilshire Mead

November 22, 1928 — December 27, 2020

MEAD, Mary Wilshire, passed away peacefully with family by her side on December 27, 2020 in Dayton, Ohio on Wingmead Farm which was her home for the past 70 years.

Born in Dayton on November 22, 1928 to Alice Whittaker Wilshire and Van Ham Wilshire, Mary was raised in Dayton where she attended The Harmon School and Oakwood High School. She also attended The Seven Hills School in Cincinnati and Westover School in Middlebury, CT before entering Smith College in Northampton, MA

Mary had several passions throughout her youth including a love for competitive tennis, summer camps and singing in the St. Paul’s Church Choir, where she fell for Tally Mead, the love of her life. In 1949, they married and soon after had 4 sons and a daughter. Encouraged by Tally, Mary learned to shoot and quickly became a fantastic shot, outlasting the best American female shooter while shooting pigeons in Europe. Following Tally’s love for flying, Mary became a licensed multi-engine pilot. She also became an avid golfer, which she played well into her eighties winning numerous trophies along the way. Throughout her life, Mary saw astronomical advancements for mankind, as she interviewed Orville Wright, the first man to fly, for a grade school newspaper, and knew Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon.

A lifelong supporter of Planned Parenthood, Mary volunteered many hours working in the Dayton family planning clinic as an assistant to Faye Wattleton, the first black president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. Mary was also an advocate of voting rights and was a volunteer driver and poll worker during presidential elections.
As a mother of five, she saw the need for a private school in the Dayton area and found Fritz and Gertrude Marti through a newspaper advertisement. Bringing their name to light to a core group of like-minded parents, she helped create The Marti School in the mid 1950’s. The Marti School’s name changed to The Miami Valley School (MVS) in 1964 when they moved to a new 20-acre campus located on land donated by her mother-in-law, Elsie Talbott Mead, and over the next 60 years, many of Mary’s children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews would become alumni of Marti and MVS.

During Mary’s active and eventful 92 years, her love of sports, traveling, hunting, and flying was second only to her love of hosting family and friends at gatherings, large and small. With grace, style, and large dose of joie de vivre, she always made her guests feel welcome in her home. The quintessential hostess, Mary’s warmth and generosity were legendary.

Mary was preceded in death by her husbands, Harry Talbott (Tally) Mead (1918 - 1986) and Robert Stanley Laing (1918 - 1999), and by her son, Harry Talbott (Chip) Mead, Jr. (1950 - 1993). She is survived by stepson Daniel Eldridge Mead (Sally Eagle), sons George Houk Mead III, and Whittaker Wilshire Mead (Beth Reid), daughter Mimi Mead-Hagen (Lee Hagen), son Dudley Holmes Mead (Monique de Vos), daughter-in law, Caroline Quintard Duckham, eight grandchildren and four great grandchildren. She was a member of St. Paul's Episcopal Church, The Miami Valley Hunt & Polo Club and The Moraine Country Club in Dayton; The Camargo Club in Cincinnati; The Little Club, St Andrews, The Gulfstream Bath & Tennis Club, and Gulfstream Golf Club in Delray Beach, FL; and The Sea Island Club in Sea Island, GA.

Donations: in lieu of flowers donations may be made to Planned Parenthood or Dayton Children’s (Hospital).

Fond memories and expressions of sympathy may be shared at

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