Cover photo for Mary Neary Dudley's Obituary

Mary Neary Dudley

d. January 27, 2023

Mary Neary Dudley passed away on January 27, 2023.

Mary was born in Baltimore, Maryland, on August 13, 1943, as the third of four children to Mary Dorothy Ressler Neary and John Anthony Neary. She received a Bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Maryland at College Park in 1965 and her Master’s degree in English at the State University of New York at Stoneybrook.

Care for our most vulnerable was Mary’s passion. Throughout her career, Mary was a stalwart champion for children and families in the state of New Mexico. Long before early childhood education and dual language had the prominence it has today, Mary was focused on and encouraged others to focus on the development of young children and the support of their families in their home language. Many refer to Mary as the grandmother of early childhood. She talked beautifully about the wholeness and brilliance of children and demonstrated such care and respect for them.

In 1968, Mary boarded a Greyhound bus to Albuquerque and immediately fell in love with the natural beauty of the state and its people. Her first job in Albuquerque was on the University of New Mexico’s campus, working for the Communication and Journalism Department and author Tony Hillerman. She traveled to Mexico to become fluent in Spanish and taught the children of migrant farm workers in California before returning to New Mexico as a bilingual kindergarten teacher at Los Padillas Elementary School. While working, she continued her studies at UNM, where she attained a second Master’s degree in Psychological Foundations of Education. Born and raised Catholic, after moving to Albuquerque she joined the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), where she found a compassionate community dedicated to advancing social justice.

In the 1980s, she co-founded Pediatric Care with Dr. Susanne Brown, which challenged and changed the traditional practice of medicine and focused on creating a supportive and affirming community for families. She led parenting classes at Maternity & Infant Care, Lovelace Hospital, and many other children and parent advocacy organizations.

In 1988, she received her PhD in Child Development at the University of New Mexico. She then went on to lead the Family Development Program at the University of New Mexico where she led a nationally accredited bilingual preschool and obtained legislative funding to support family-centered community partnerships. Here, she co-authored three books on parenting, Baby Love Book, Toddler Love Book, and Preschooler Love Book. Countless families have felt the warmth of her kindness and her affirming advice on how to best advocate for themselves and their children.

Mary was a bright and brilliant presence and exuded love to all who knew her. She found joy in children, animals, poetry, singing, natural beauty, watching the night sky for shooting stars, and spending time with family and friends. She was a treasured friend to many.

In addition to her commitment to young children, Mary was a passionate advocate of women’s rights and social justice and was recognized as a Woman on the Move by the YWCA, and received the Spirit of Hope Award from New Mexico Voices for Children. An avid poet since childhood, Mary has been published in numerous poetry collections and has published two of her own chapbooks. A tribute to Mary was created by Generation Justice in 2017: Mary Dudley: Grandmother to All - Generation Justice.

She is survived by her husband of nearly 50 years, James Dudley of Albuquerque, NM; daughters Claire Dudley Chavez (husband Michael Chavez) and Rosemary Dudley (husband Michaël Faucheur) of Albuquerque, NM; grandsons Luc and Téo of Albuquerque, NM; sister Margaret Linkous of Falls Church, VA; sisters-in-law Joan Neary and Nancy Neary of Albuquerque, NM, Virginia Dudley of Saint Paul, MN, and Ann Dudley and Kathleen Fisher of Portland, OR; brothers-in-law Bill Myers of Saint Paul, MN, and Bill Chase of Westport, CT; seven nephews, two nieces, and many dear friends. Her older brothers, John Neary of Tesuque, NM, and Stephen Neary of Albuquerque, NM, preceded her in death.

A celebration of Mary’s life will be held at 2 pm on February 11th at the UNM Alumni Memorial Chapel.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that contributions be made to New Mexico Voices for Children or Generation Justice.

Service Schedule

Past Services

Celebration of Life

Saturday, February 11, 2023

2:00 - 3:00 pm (Mountain time)

Alumni Memorial Chapel

Albuquerque, NM 87106

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