Mary Burnside Mangelsdorf Obituary

Mary Burnside Mangelsdorf, 91, died peacefully, after a brief illness, on October 24, 2018 at Riddle Hospital in Media, surrounded by family. Mary lived in Swarthmore for more than four decades before moving to the White Horse Village retirement community in Newtown Square in 2004. 

A member of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), Mary worked for 17 years as the meeting secretary for Swarthmore Friends Meeting, where her wide-ranging duties included everything from facilitating meetinghouse rentals to creating the meeting’s monthly newsletter and helping prepare for the annual Swarthmore Meeting “Jumble Sale” fundraiser.

Mary was born in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., on April 3, 1927, the daughter of Malcolm MacNair Burnside, a Scottish immigrant who rose up through the ranks to become president of a local department store, and Helen DeRemer Burnside, a nurse. Mary graduated from Wyoming Seminary, an independent school in Kingston, Pa., in 1944 and from Swarthmore College in 1948, with a degree in history. At Swarthmore, she met fellow student Paul C. Mangelsdorf, Jr. while volunteering together for a Democratic candidate for Congress; they married in August 1949 and enjoyed more than 65 years of a very happy marriage, until his death in March 2015. 

Mary is survived by her four children and their spouses: Helen Mangelsdorf and Roman Tybinko of Philadelphia; Paul Mangelsdorf III and Laurice Mangelsdorf of Atlanta, Georgia; Sarah Mangelsdorf and Karl Rosengren of Madison, Wisconsin; and Martha Mangelsdorf and Roy Peabody of Boston, Massachusetts. She is also survived by her brother-in-law Clark Mangelsdorf of Carmel, Indiana, as well as by five grandchildren and nine nieces and nephews. She was predeceased by both her husband and her brothers, Frank Burnside and Robert Burnside. 

After their marriage, Mary and Paul lived first in Cambridge, Mass., then in Chicago, then in Falmouth, Mass., and then for many years in both Swarthmore and, in the summer, West Falmouth, Mass. 

When the couple’s four children were young, Mary was a full-time homemaker. As the children grew older, Mary held a number of part-time positions outside the home, including working at the Swarthmore College Peace Collection research library and archives. In 1977, she became the meeting secretary at Swarthmore Friends Meeting, where she worked until her retirement. 

Mary and Paul became members of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) in the 1950s, and Quakerism became a major part of their shared life together. Mary served as a member of the board of managers of the Quaker magazine Friends Journal for more than a dozen years during the 1980s and 1990s. She was also a member of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, the League of Women Voters, and the Friends Historical Association.

Mary will be deeply missed by her family and friends. She is remembered for her kind heart and lively intelligence, her integrity, and her concern for social justice. Her many interests included history, Quakerism, choral music, and politics. She had a great love of books and reading that dated back to her childhood and that permeated many aspects of her life, whether she was reading to a small child, working or volunteering in a library, relaxing with a good book, or sharing her insights about something she had read. She remained actively engaged in community, family, and intellectual life until just a few days before her death. 

A Friends memorial service for Mary will be held March 30, 2019 at 2 p.m. at Swarthmore Friends Meeting at 12 Whittier Place.  The family plans to hold an additional memorial service later in the year at West Falmouth Meeting in Massachusetts. 

In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent in Mary’s memory to any of the religious or secular nonprofit organizations with which she was involved.

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