Mary Catherine Carlson Wells, 93, of Westerville, died July 24, 2019 following a short illness. Mary Cay was born January 20, 1926 in Cleveland Ohio, the oldest child of Dr. Benjamin Carlson and Edna (Dellinger) Carlson. She and her three siblings, Ann, Alice and Ben, grew up on Lakeside Drive in Lorain, Ohio and often said she lived “in” Lake Erie, rather than on it. She graduated from Lorain High School and then Otterbein College in Westerville, Ohio with a B.A. degree in Sociology in 1947. After graduation, she married fellow Otterbein student John Wells and they moved to Bowling Green, Ohio to each pursue an M.A. in Psychology.
As was the custom of the times, Mary Cay was a stay at home mother for their children Kay, Gwen and Phil. Once her youngest entered the 1st grade, she immediately and eagerly attended Kent State University part-time and earned her teaching certificate. Her first teaching assignment was 5th grade at Longfellow Elementary in Westerville. Daughter Gwen was in her class. She taught 5th grade at Longfellow, Hanby and Annehurst elementary schools until 1974. Mary Cay was referred to as “Superteacher” by her fellow teachers at Annehurst, which was an innovative and nationally recognized school at the time. According to the principal of the school, Mary Cay was instrumental in organizing and operating the school. In 1974 she began work on her PhD in Education at Ohio State and graduated in 1979. She joined the faculty of Otterbein in the Education Department in 1980 and retired in 1992.
In 2000, Mary Cay began reading and transcribing over 300 letters and two dozen postcards from the late 1800’s of the Sage family, her ancestors, which described the lives, challenges and insights into a family that was immersed in farming, church and missionary work. In 2007, Mary Cay finished authoring a book entitled, “The Sages – 1880 to 1890” in which she told the fascinating story of her Great Uncle and his family.
Always organized, always interested in other people, Mary Cay was known for sending birthday, anniversary and other greeting cards to dozens of family members and friends each and every month. She always made it a point to ask about your work, your schooling, your family or your interests – because it was of genuine interest to her. In her 80’s, she educated herself about professional hockey because it was a common discussion topic with her grandchildren. She soon became an enthusiastic and knowledgeable Blue Jackets fan. She was an avid reader her entire life, enjoying books of education, humor, politics, of accomplished women, and of course – child development.
Church and mission work were very important to Mary Cay. She was a member of the Church of the Master since moving to Westerville in 1964, sang in the choir with her late husband John, and composed several choral responses for the choir sung many times during service(s). Mary Cay volunteered and served on the board of NNEMAP, a local food pantry. Her favorite part was interviewing and getting to know potential clients. Mission work included trips to New Windsor, Maryland, McCurdy School in New Mexico, Haiti, Alaska, and South Africa. In her final years at Friendship Village, Mary Cay was active in the Village Writer’s, Holiday Decorating, Women’s Club, Chimers, Humanities, and Friendly Visitors.
She was a woman who was loved and admired by all those who knew her.
Mary Cay was preceded in death by her husband of 70 years John, her brother Ben and sister Ann. She is survived by her children Kay Landis, Gwen (Rex) Blair, Philip (Chris) Wells, grandchildren Jennifer (Curt) Garrett, Ben (Lainie) Landis, Kathryn (Josh) Compton, Bryan (Terah) Smith, Drew (Lindsay) Smith and Robert Blair, great-grandchildren Katlynn (Denny) Bell Chanthachak, J.J. Todd, Callen and Max Garrett, Alexander and Charlotte Landis, Owen and Ajay Smith.
The family will receive friends from 4 to 6 pm August 1, 2019 at Hill Funeral Home, 220 South State Street, Westerville, Ohio. A Celebration of Life will be on Friday August 2 at 11 am at Church of the Master, 24 North Grove Street, Rev. Jay Anderson officiating.
In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be sent to the Dellinger-Carlson Memorial Fund at Otterbein University, or Church of the Master.