Mary Ann Ward Hester, age 85, of Oxford, NC, died on May 4 in Cary at Woodland Terrace Arboretum, where she had lived for the last three years. Mary Ann was born on December 8, 1930 in Goldsboro, growing up there as the only child of Esther Ann Hunter Ward and Lindsay Loice Ward. She graduated from Goldsboro High School, then spent four years at Women’s College in Greensboro, earning a degree in home economics. Her first real job was teaching home ec at Seven Springs High School, where she made an impression on Coach Ben Hester who entreated the principal to assign her as chaperone to his girls’ basketball team. Mary Ann and Ben got married the following year and moved to Four Oaks where their daughter Benjie was born. Next they lived in Trenton, where she worked as a home extension agent and he coached and taught. Their daughter Lyndsay was born there. In 1959, when Ben accepted a coaching and teaching job at Oxford Orphanage, they moved to his hometown Oxford and raised a family, adding a son Jim in 1964. Mary Ann worked first as an extension agent then as a children’s social worker until retiring in 1990.
Mary Ann served on the Granville County Human Relations Committee and the Aubrey Brooks Scholarship Committee. She taught Sunday School at Oxford Baptist Church and was a docent at the Granville County History Museum. She enjoyed visiting people who were “shut-in” and delivered Meals on Wheels for many years. Gardening, walking, watching and feeding birds, reading, and refinishing furniture were her hobbies. She did not like to miss Julie Brockman’s aerobics class at the Senior Center. In her retired years she loved to go “Over the Bridge” to Sunset Beach every spring and fall. Mary Ann perfected the art of making peanut brittle, hanging out clothes, and sweeping up. She had a formidable work ethic and did not turn away from responsibility or making decisions. Her son Jim likes to say she had a “pep in her step.” She kept things clean and neat, organized and maintained.
Mary Ann was preceded in death by her husband Ben of twenty-one years in 1974. She leaves behind three children and their families: Benjie Hester and husband Dana Lasher of Raleigh, Lyndsay Hester and wife Betty Crute of Oxford, Jim Hester and wife Lan Hester of Oxford along with their two children Liz and Ben. Also surviving are her sister-in-law Lois Hight of Oxford as well as many cousins, nieces, and nephews. All of her family loved her very much and will miss her terribly.
Her memorial service will be Tuesday, May 10, 2016 at 2:30 pm at Gentry-Newell & Vaughan Funeral Home in Oxford. A brief graveside service at Enon Baptist Church will immediately follow. Reception with the family will be from 1 to 2:30 pm.
In lieu of flowers the family asks that gifts be made either to the Oxford Baptist Church, PO Box 398, Oxford, NC 27565 (oxfordbaptistnc.org) or to the Granville County Senior Center at 107 Lanier St, Oxford, NC 27565.
Online memorials: www.HallWynne.com