Mary Elizabeth Canada was born on July 10th, 1929 at Harlem Hospital in New York. She was the first of six children of Leonard and Lydia Williams. She attended public schools through high school in Harlem. In 1947 she attended Johnson C. Smith University in North Carolina for two years. Mary moved to the South Bronx after college where she met and married McAlister Canada. They had four sons, Daniel, Jonathan, Geoffrey, and Reuben.
Mary was an avid reader and averaged a book a week for many decades. Her love for knowledge was key in helping her children navigate a notoriously bad public education system in the South Bronx. All four of her children graduated from high school and attended college or technical schools.
Mary was equally a deeply spiritual person. She began her own spiritual journey studying under Dr. Raymond Charles Barker the leader and author in the New Thought Spiritual Movement and specifically Religious Science. She would bring all four of her sons to Sunday service at Alice Tully Hall in Lincoln Center, to listen to Dr. Barker.
Once her children were grown Mary went back to City College to finish her undergraduate degree. With encouragement from her family, she applied and was accepted by the Harvard Graduate School of Education. In 1979 she received her Master’s degree in counseling from Harvard. Mary then went on to work at Stonybrook University as a counselor for minority students, before taking a job as a substance abuse counselor in Hempstead, New York where she worked until she retired.
Even when she was not working Mary continued to live a rich social and intellectual life. She was a member of her beloved book club right up until her passing. Her love of reading and intellectually stimulating conversation remained with her right till the end. On May 25th, 2021 Mary transitioned peacefully at home surrounded by her family.
Mary is survived by her three sons, Daniel (Nelda), Geoffrey (Yvonne), and Reuben, her two sisters Marion Williams and Rachel Williams (Leon), her thirteen grandchildren Derrick (Nyja), Tonia, Melina, Jerry, Salimah, Jamil, Darien, Dina, Bruce, Kareem, Michael, Geoffrey Jr. Jahlen, 18 great grandchildren, and 7 great great grandchildren and many nieces, nephews, cousins, and friends.
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