Mary Jane Vanderwilt, died Saturday morning, May 10, 2014, unexpectedly following a brief illness.
She was born February 2, 1929, to the late Ralph Nelson Shepard and Mildred Sarah Murphy Shepard in Rochester, New York. She moved with her parents to Charleston in 1934. She graduated from Charleston High School in 1945 and from Wellesley College in 1949.
She is survived by her husband, C.J. Vanderwilt, to whom she was married for more than 64 years. She is also survived by her three children, Mary Ellen Vanderwilt of Nashville, TN, Ruth Vanderwilt McVey of Tempe, AZ, and Bill Vanderwilt and his wife, Cate and their two children, Seth and Mia, all of Seattle, Washington.
Mrs. Vanderwilt was devoted to her family, her community, and her church. She was a stay-at-home mother while her children were growing up, but she was elected to the Charleston City Council in the 1960s where she served 32 years. She was a longtime active member of the Municipal Beautification Commission and played a significant role in the planting of trees on Kanawha Boulevard, the planting and maintenance of street trees and landscaping throughout the city, and the improvement of Riverfront Park.
Her church, First Presbyterian Church, was important to her, and she was ordained one of the first women elders in 1973. She was also active in the Junior League of Charleston and the League of Women Voters.
Mrs. Vanderwilt enjoyed playing tennis, reading —especially mysteries, and traveling by car with her family on trips to national parks, botanical gardens, arboretums, and museums throughout the country. She and Mr. Vanderwilt enjoyed visiting their children, and their last major car trip was to Arizona, including the Grand Canyon, in 2007 for a reunion with their children and grandchildren.
A Memorial Service will take place at 11:00 a.m., Saturday, May 17, 2014 at First Presbyterian Church. A reception will follow in the dining room.
In lieu of flowers, please make contributions in Mrs. Vanderwilt’s memory to the Kanawha County Public Library Foundation, 123 Capitol Street, Charleston, WV 25301.