Mann, Mary Gardner

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Mary Gardner Mann, 94 (née Mary McDonald Gardner), passed away on Friday, February 4, 2022, in the comfort of her home of more than 60 years, surrounded by family.

Born and raised in Shawsville and known as Mary Don, Mary graduated with a bachelor’s degree from Roanoke College where she served as captain of the women’s basketball team. Roanoke College is also where she met her late husband, Wilbur Earl Mann Jr., and was voted Rose Queen for Pi Kappa Phi fraternity’s annual Rose Ball formal. The title signifies a woman who embodies class, character, and elegance. Her family and friends cannot imagine a woman more worthy of the title.

Wilbur and Mary, who were voted Steadiest Couple in a senior poll, graduated in 1948 and were married in 1949. Mary’s professional career reflected her values of service and humility. She worked as a case manager to assist intellectually and developmentally disabled adults in joining the workforce at The Arc and Center for Human Development in Salem. She taught at Shawsville High School and the United Methodist Church. Mary taught with grace. Always felt more than heard, her quiet compassion was a leading example and contagious to those around her. She was a long-standing member of College Lutheran Church (CLC) and involved in many volunteer activities, including CLC Altar Guild, the Salem Food Pantry, the Salem Clothes Closet, and Salem Public Library. Mary will be remembered by the empathy, acceptance, and respect with which she treated every person she encountered, and the unconditional love and support she gave her family and friends.

Mary was predeceased by her parents, Frank and Brooke Gardner; as well as her brother and sister-in-law, Givens and Nell Oakey Gardner.

Surviving are her five children, Wilbur Earl Mann III and Teresa Mann of Hickory, N.C., Donna and Bob Ebeling of Vicksburg, Miss., Bob Mann of Roanoke, Jeannie Mann and Kim Roe of Roanoke, and John and Valerie Mann of Salem; grandchildren, Justin Mann and Anna Xu, Caitlin Mann and Greg Bull, and Emily Mann; and dearest friend, Bunny Harless.

A celebration of Mary’s life will take place on Monday, February 7, 2022, at College Lutheran Church in Salem. A period of visitation will begin at 1 p.m. with a service beginning at 2 p.m. Pastor David Drebes will officiate. Interment will immediately follow at Sherwood Memorial Park. The family requests that all in attendance wear a mask.

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to College Lutheran Church or a charity of your choice. Online condolences may be expressed by visiting