Mary Rebecca Earley, 95, of Fort Branch, IN, passed away peacefully at her home on September 20, 2021. She was born to the late George and Hallie Mae (Dunn) Sherman on June 13, 1926, in Cardington, OH. After high school graduation in 1944, she went onto study nursing at White Cross Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, as part of the U.S. Cadet Nurse Corps. Mary graduated from nursing school in 1947, worked as a nurse and married her classmate and friend since kindergarten Ned B. Earley in 1949. They grew up together and simply did not remember not knowing each other.
While raising her three children Mary occasionally worked part time as a nurse. As her children grew older, she used her nursing background to volunteer at the state hospital and the (then) Barney Children’s Hospital--both in Dayton, Ohio. After moving to Ft. Branch in 1973, she volunteered her time to the mental health associations of Gibson and Vanderburgh counties and started an “Adopt-a-Patient” program at nursing homes in Princeton, Indiana. She served on the Board of Trustees for the Fort Branch Public Library and was a member of the Morning Etude music appreciation group in Princeton.
Mary passionately appreciated beauty in its many forms. She was drawn to the visual arts--especially paintings in museums, galleries or in print. She supported women’s art through venues such as the National Museum of Women in the Arts and the Women’s Institute and Gallery in New Harmony. Music was always a part of her adult households. While it was an occasional treat to attend live music performances, she listened to many genres on recordings or the radio—anything from classical and opera, to big band, jazz, soundtracks, oratorios or hymns. Her husband’s piano playing filled the house until his death in 2013. She was drawn to the beauty in nature: flowers in her own or public gardens, walking on a beach or in the woods, or exploring the National Parks. She was drawn to landscape vistas and cloudscapes in the big southern Indiana skies.
Curious by nature Mary loved to travel and was able to do so in the US and Canada, and locales in Spain, Italy, France, Germany, Austria, and England. She was a voracious reader of many genres— literature, poetry, essays, fiction/non-fiction, the study of civilization and American history. Growing up she felt a prized possession was to have a public library card.
Besides her parents, she is preceded in death by her husband of 64 years, Ned B. Earley; her son, Ned Sherman Earley; and her brother, Robert Sherman. She is survived by her children, Shelley (Kurt Schmidt) Earley of Fitzwilliam, NH and Craig Earley of Fort Branch, IN; grandson, Jesse Schmidt (Lingyan Chen) of Wilton, NH; Ned S’s widow Marilyn Earley and granddaughter Alyssa; nephews, David (Sue) Sherman, Joel (Cindy) Sherman, and Teddy Sherman; and great nieces and nephews and their children.
At her request there will be no funeral. Donations in her memory can be made to the Fort Branch Public Library (107 E. Locust Street, Ft. Branch, 47648) or Southern Care Hospice (12251 US-41, Suite C, Evansville, IN 47725). Expressions of sympathy can be made at stodghillfuneralhome.com.
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