Mary Nell Currie, beloved wife, mother, grandmother and friend, passed away at her
home in Minocqua, Wisconsin on September 4. She was born on March 14,1928 in
Brandon, Mississippi, and lived a full and loving life filled with travel, faith and service, music, nature, and, most of all, family.
One of six sisters in a large extended family, Mary Nell spent her childhood in Mississip
pi, graduating from Philadelphia (Miss.) High School in 1945. During those years, she
studied piano and violin, which became lifelong pleasures, and began to sense
the”largeness and infinite spaciousness of God’s love and His Earth”, as she wrote in
Following high school, she attended Belhaven College in Jackson and LSU in Baton
Rouge (violin major). In 1947, she joined the orchestra of the musical revue “The Good
Road” produced by Moral Rearmament, an international movement promoting reconcili
ation among the war-ravaged nations of Europe and Asia. This led to nearly twenty
years of service as an executive secretary, musician, gourmet cook and editor in New
York, Washington D.C., Los Angeles, Switzerland, London, and Brazil. In 1966, she
helped establish Mackinac College, a liberal arts institution aimed at developing a new
generation of young leaders. She fell in love with an MRA co-worker, Bruce F. Currie, at
an MRA youth conference on Mackinac Island, Michigan in 1947, and they married in
1958. This past July, they celebrated their 60th anniversary.
It was on Mackinac Island that Mary Nell and Bruce started their family: sons Craig and
Bruce were born in 1963 and 1966. In 1969, they moved to Ann Arbor, where “Big
Bruce” earned his PhD. Mary Nell worked as Administrative Editor of the Annals of Tho
racic Surgery based at the University of Michigan Medical School. Job opportunities
took them to New Jersey and then to Madison, Wisconsin: Bruce with the Department of
Family Medicine and Mary Nell as Director of the Executive Residence (Governor’s
Mansion) during the Dreyfus administration. While in Madison, Mary Nell sat on the
board of the local Audubon Society and was responsible for its educational programs. She also co-produced the First Methodist Church’s annual Christmas musical.
In 1981, Mary Nell was able to complete her bachelor’s degree from Thomas Edison
State College in New Jersey. That same year, Mary Nell and Bruce moved to the Kan
sas City area, where she worked as a successful real estate agent for thirteen years. It
was during these years that she established an after-school nature program for neigh
borhood children and discovered a talent for teaching children about the wonders of na
ture. This was a gift she shared with her grandchildren as she involved them in her love
of gardening, hiking, camping, collecting nature artifacts, and of course, birdwatching.
Bruce and Mary Nell retired in 1995, building a beautiful home on Malby Lake in Minoc
qua, a home where children, grandchildren and other family often gathered to enjoy her piano-playing, nature walks, loon-watching, and cooking.
In retirement, Mary Nell and Bruce split their time between Green Valley, Arizona and
Minocqua. She spent countless hours working on family genealogy to find, organize and
preserve family mementos, photos and stories for her grandchildren and future genera
tions. She also found great joy in staying connected with family and life-long friends she
made during her travels. Up to and including the final, sunny day of her long, full life,
Mary Nell could be found in her gardens, delighting in the beauty and glory of His World.
Mary Nell was predeceased by her parents, Duke H. and Lillian D. Thornton, her sisters
Dorothy Dorris Thornton and Lorene Cain, and her brothers-in-law, Fergus Brown and
Philip W. Currie, M.D.. She is survived by her husband, Bruce F. Currie, son Craig K.
Currie and daughter-in-law Dawn Jones of Cushing, Maine; son Bruce C. Currie and
daughter-in-law Beth Roseberry of Glen Ellyn, Illinois; grandchildren Ethan A. Currie,
Emily N. Currie, Joshua T. Currie, and Daniela E. Currie; sisters Carolyn Duke Brown of
Harrowsmith, Ontario and Lillian Landry of Hendersonville, North Carolina; siblings-in
law James and Carol MacLennan and Elinor Currie, as well as many beloved nieces,
nephews, cousins, and cherished friends.
A memorial service will be held on Saturday, September 15 at 11am at United Methodist
Church of the Pines. Following the service there will be a reception and luncheon; everyone who attends the service is welcome to come.
Donations in memory of Mary Nell may be made to Habitat for Humanity, Northwoods;
or the Minocqua Public Library.