Remembering Mary Carol
By Ron Jones
Kathleen and I decided to go on a tour of remodeled homes in Lexington a few weeks ago. The last house we visited was advertised as having a “micro-forest” in the backyard, and that certainly sounded intriguing. We were talking to the current owner, and he happened to mention that the previous owner was a native plant enthusiast who had worked at Salato Wildlife Center, and I immediately thought of Mary Carol Cooper, and sure enough, we were standing in Mary Carol’s long time residence. We both got a little choked up when we realized this. I took a stroll around her backyard to see what she had planted, noting buttonbush, spicebush, green-dragon, arrow-wood viburnum, bladdernut, big leaf magnolia, and purple coneflower, among many others. As I walked around in her backyard, I thought of how much she must have labored, and how much love and care went into maintaining this small patch of native plants.
We were out of the country when Mary Carol passed last year, and we had no idea that she had been ill, and it was a great shock. We had known Mary Carol for many years, and we were upset that we were away and could not be a part of the memorials and remembrances. I first met Mary Carol when she came to EKU in the early 90's to work on a degree in Wildlife Management. She enrolled in several of my field botany classes and was always a top student in the classes, and her joy in learning the material was clearly evident. But it was through KNPS that Kathleen and I really got to know her well. We looked forward to talking to her and having meals with her at our various meetings. She always had a big smile, always brightened up the room, and was always ready to help the KNPS in any way, and she served the KNPS in various capacities as an officer and on the Board.
I often think of all the people that have gotten to know each other through the KNPS. The society has brought many people together from many different walks of life, people that may never have met otherwise. So many more contacts, so many more close friends, so much more sharing of ideas and activities. I think that is one of the most important and long-lasting legacies of KNPS. We are so grateful to have known Mary Carol, and we will truly miss her.
(see photo below)