Mary  Dwan
Mary Dwan

April 26, 1941 - June 22, 2020
Born in Cincinnati, Ohio
Resided in Eugene, Oregon
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Mary died peacefully in her sleep at home on June 22, 2020, succumbing to pancreatic cancer after she successfully battled it for over 6 months.
Mary was an amazing artist, a highly successful therapist, a philanthropist and community member, a mother, a wife, a friend, and an energetic and positive force of nature, humor, peace and empathy.
Mary was born in Cincinnati on April 26, 1941. She was a curious, outgoing and artistic girl who wrote and kept diaries, detailing her adventures and love of her friends, classes and learning as well as her favorite activity once she was old enough: annual trips to summer camp. She grew up alongside her beloved siblings: older brother Mike and younger sister, Liz. The three were the closest of friends her entire life.
Mary moved with her family to Israel for one year at age 13, and then returned to the US to Larchmont, New York where she graduated from Mamaroneck High School in 1959. Mary then attended and graduated from Stanford University with a BA in Modern European Literature in 1963. One of the highlights of her college experience was a year abroad in Italy, where she studied and also traveled across Europe. The other highlight of college, like her earlier school experiences, was the forging of wonderful friendships that lasted her entire life.
Mary married her first husband, Herman in 1966. After working as a literature teacher in California she moved to New York where she earned a Masters in Education from Columbia and taught at Saint Ann's School in Brooklyn Heights, New York. She had her first son Alex in New York in 1967. Moving to California, she then had her second son, Mike.
As a young mom and educator in San Diego, California she was proud to co-found the first integrated nursery school in the area, with toddlers from several races in a progressive environment.
After an amicable divorce (and another friendship with her first husband, Herman, that remained and lasted her life), she moved to the Bay Area and worked as an editor and went back to graduate school, earning a Masters in Psychology at Santa Clara University, which led to a long and successful career as a counselor, educator and psychotherapist.
It was during this time that she met her second husband-to-be Rob in 1973, at a holistic healing conference in Northern California. Mary soon began counseling students in crisis and those needing personal counseling in 1974 as part of a program called Head Rest in Modesto, California. She and her
family lived among a tight-knit community of therapists and social workers who naturally gravitated to each other in Modesto, and Mary brought friends together with their children for rotating pot luck nights called "Dinner Club" that kept everyone entertained and kindled friendships that last to this day.
Mary married her second husband Rob in Tuolomne Meadows, Yosemite in 1975, a marriage that lasted 45 years until her passing. Her family returned to the Bay Area in 1976 as she accepted a new job to become the head of an inpatient residential therapy program for adolescents, before being promoted to lead the entire school which was run by Mt Zion Hospital in San Francisco.
Mary had her third son, Rafael in late 1979. She continued her career as a working mom with an innovative job-sharing arrangement that allowed her to return to her prior role part time while she had a new infant. In the early 1980s, Mary decided to move from inpatient work and start a private practice, focusing on marriage and family counseling. She quickly grew a successful practice in the Bay Area and also became active in the Stepfamily Association of America.
She moved to Eugene, Oregon in 1984 with her family and again rapidly built a thriving therapy practice. She was active in the Eugene area psychotherapy community, including becoming President of the local Stepfamily Association for a time and leading group discussions, lunches and dinners, and other regular meet-ups for fellow therapists to share best practices and support. Unlike in California, where one could practice therapy with a Masters, a full practice in Oregon without a PhD or MD supervisor required a PhD or equivalent degree. So Mary studied for two years, passing both the written and oral PhD exams in Oregon and was able to fully practice on her own, becoming well known as an expert in her field and always with a long waiting list of patients.
Mary practiced marriage and family therapy for 20 years in Eugene before retiring, helping hundreds of patients and making more lifelong friends of fellow therapists and community members in Eugene. She was also an "angel investor" of sorts before the term became popular, loaning money to what became a nationally successful organic foods business started by one of her best friends (also named "Mary").
Mary was active first in the local synagogue in Eugene before becoming a follower of the Quaker faith, and she remained a Quaker until her passing. Mary never pushed religion on anyone, and referred to herself later in her life as a Quaker by faith and a secular Jewish person by upbringing. She enjoyed the traditions and holidays of Judaism as well as the Quaker teachings and services and her Quaker friends. She also enjoyed the American traditions of Christmas and Easter, so her children growing up were treated to Christmas, Easter, Passover and Channukah every year.
Later, her chosen Quaker faith was crucial in her dignified battle with cancer, where her spirits remained bright despite the diagnosis and side effects of treatment.
Before retirement, Mary began to take art classes at the University of Oregon. After retiring she continued her art, moving from making beaded jewelry and hand-crafted paper, to also become an expertly skilled sketch artist and painter. Her favorite medium was watercolors, and she filled her house and those of her loved ones with beautiful landscape paintings. Her talent could capture realistic scenery but she preferred a whimsical, light style that captured the ambiance of a place or scene. She also wrote poetry, publishing a book of poems in 1972 and continuing to write through her retirement years, crafting emotional, touching and often funny poems even while fighting cancer.
In her retirement years, Mary split her time traveling to visit her children, East Coast relatives, and friends around the country, and lived about half of the year in Eugene and half in the Virgin Islands in a tiny house that she helped design on Virgin Gorda. On the tropical paradise of Virgin Gorda, she was not content to sit back and sip Mai Tai's, however. Mary volunteered as a local mental health counselor for abused teens for a year and then as a mental health counselor and trainer for VISAR, Virgin Island Search and Rescue. She also volunteered as an art teacher at Virgin Gorda's Valley Day School for several years, while continuing her own painting.
Mary was a prolific writer and wrote a full-length book during her last few years on the island, a magical and mystical island tale, "The Island of Nah".
Mary was a beloved member of the community on the small island of Virgin Gorda for about half of every year. In 2017, she and her husband Rob survived Hurricane Irma's direct hit on the island. Their house destroyed by the hurricane, Mary returned to live in Eugene full-time. Ever the writer, she wrote a detailed journal about the near-death experience, trauma and adventure of surviving the hurricane and navigating the wreckage across several islands before getting back to safety, with photos and notes that she shared with friends and relatives.
Mary loved her family and the many close friendships she made throughout her life. She was a friend to people her own age, and even much younger, in her final years. She made hand-painted and designed cards, built on paper she also crafted, to go with the gifts she made of jewelry and art. Despite accolades, she steadfastly refused to sell her art. "I make them for me and for you. I have zero interest in selling" she would reply when asked.
When prompted for the "secret" to the many strong friendships she had built that lasted a lifetime, Mary replied that she thought she was a good listener, and her husband Rob added that she was incredibly loyal. She could indeed always be counted on to listen, offer the sage advice of a professional counselor, and to be there for her family and friends. She loved creating and giving away art, and she
loved to teach and help people. Mary was a pacifist and a strong believer in non-violence and equal rights for all.
Her boundless energy, enthusiasm and positivity, her creativity and humor, and her willingness to share and support her family, friends and community spanned almost 80 years.
Mary is survived by her husband, Rob and her three sons Alex, Mike and Rafael and their partners, as well as her sister Liz and Liz's husband Rafi, her sister-in-law Maj-Britt, sister-in-law Judy, sister-in-law Laura, brothers-in-law Stanley, Lanny and James, her nieces Dina, Tamar and Yael and nephews Ilya, Ian, Per, Eric and Nils and nieces-and-nephews-in law Audrey, Christopher and Jong Soo. She is also survived by several cousins, grandnieces & grandnephews.
While Mary's spirit lives on through her memories, her family, her healing work and her art, she is dearly missed.
A graveside service will be held on Saturday, June, 27, 2020 at 11 AM at Sunset Hills Cemetery, 4810 Willamette Street, Eugene, OR 97405.
The burial ceremony will be held in the Quaker style of silent worship, with no formally identified speakers. Anyone can share their thoughts at any time.
The local Quaker community will be organizing a Memorial Meeting for Worship within the next few weeks.
Arrangements are in the care of Sunset Hills Funeral Home in Eugene, OR.




Sunset Hills Funeral Home, Crematorium and Cemetery
4810 Willamette St.
Eugene, OR United States 97405
Sunset Hills Funeral Home, Crematorium and Cemetery
4810 Willamette St.
Eugene, OR United States 97405
Sunset Hills Funeral Home, Crematorium and Cemetery
4810 Willamette St.
Eugene, OR United States 97405