SEMINOLE — After traveling across the country with her Air Force husband for 20 years, Mary Young found some roots.
She discovered them in the All Children's Hospital Guild. A friend led her to get involved with the fundraising and volunteer group, and she quickly flowered there, becoming chairwoman and winning its only two recognition awards — the Angel of the Year award and the Mrs. Santa award.
"She was so devoted to that cause," said her daughter, Jessica Becklund, 56. She was also dedicated to helping the children, who many times recognized her immediately on sight.
Mrs. Young died Monday (June 8, 2009) from idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, a lung disease. She was 77.
Becklund, who was Mrs. Young's only child, remembers going to 13 different schools while she followed her mother and father around the county. The family lived in Washington, Alaska, Virginia and Illinois, among other states.
Becklund said her mother became a pro at moving, and love being an "officer's wife."
"She loved all the things that went along with that," Becklund said. "She loved to entertain and do her part."
Mrs. Young's regal personality demanded respect.
She wasn't bossy, said her daughter, but had a natural knack for authority. Friends and relatives remarked how she dressed impeccably, had a beautiful smile, and was rarely seen without her hair and makeup done.
"She was a true lady, a classy lady," said Treasure Island resident Charmeine Smith, 74, a lifelong friend.
Nicknamed "Queenie" by her family, Mrs. Young was regal, but not spoiled.
"She was such a humble person," Becklund said.
That didn't keep her from success, however. In addition to leading the guild, Mrs. Young started the beach branch's walk-a-thon, which brings in about $5,000 annually to the hospital.
Guild member Claudia Roberts said they will be naming the walk-a-thon after Mrs. Young.
Though Mrs. Young was prim and proper, she was a self-made naturalist, Becklund said.
During the summer of her 70th birthday, she hiked 40 miles of the Appalachian Trail with her church. She spent many summers working at the Yellowstone Natural Park. She would go up by herself and leave her nice clothes and makeup behind.
"She sacrificed all that and lived in a dorm," Becklund said. "She did it because she loved the park."
Mrs. Young also loved to garden. Of her plants, she was most proud of her azaleas and roses. She wanted a crape myrtle tree in her back yard, but was unable to plant one before her death.
Becklund plans to plant the tree in her mother's front yard in her memory.
Amy Mariani can be reached at (813) 226-3374 or firstname.lastname@example.org.