Rev. Mary Lowrey Peacock, long-time resident of Chapel Hill, passed away peacefully July 19, 2017. Mary was the daughter of the late James A. Lowrey, Jr. and Louise Stubbs Lowrey.
Mary was born June 25, 1933 in Macon, Georgia and grew up in Atlanta. She graduated valedictorian from Druid Hills High School, where she was president of the National Honor Society and captain of the women’s basketball team. She attended Wesleyan College, where she was president of the Freshman Class and a member of the tennis team; and then the University of North Carolina, where she was a member of Pi Beta Phi sorority. Upon graduating from UNC with a BA in mathematics, Mary married Dr. Erle E. Peacock, Jr. Erle fell in love with Mary as a beautiful UNC co-ed wearing a Pi Phi pin. He didn’t know her name so he had to ask the sorority house mother to arrange their first date. Mary was a devoted wife and mother of three children. She and Erle made a home in Chapel Hill until Erle’s career as Professor of Surgery led them to move the family to Tucson, AZ in 1969. In Tucson, Mary was an active member of Catalina United Methodist Church, teaching Sunday School and serving on the Education Committee. When the University of Arizona hospital opened in Tucson, Mary helped establish the volunteer services department and served as president of the Hospital Auxiliary. In 1977, Erle’s career brought them to New Orleans, LA, where Mary quickly became immersed in church activities, including teaching the Bible, working in mission outreach programs for Cuban refugees, leading tours to the Holy Land and promoting children’s ministry.
Loyal Tar Heels, Erle and Mary returned to Chapel Hill in 1982. With her children grown, Mary had time to pursue her passion for religious education in earnest. She earned a Masters in Theological Studies from Duke Divinity School and was ordained as a Methodist Minister. She served three churches in Chapel Hill. At University United Methodist Church, she led Disciple Bible Study, helped found the University Church Preschool, and was Chair of Trustees. While she was heading the task group to renovate the steeple in 1993, she was especially delighted to ring the steeple bells when the Tar Heels won the NCAA championship.
Mary was a charter member of Christ United Methodist Church, where she served as Director of Christian Education and Associate Pastor. She especially loved teaching children about God’s love and looked forward every year to leading Vacation Bible School and directing the children’s Christmas pageant. She founded the Christ Church preschool where children could be taught about God’s love every day.
After official retirement, Mary faithfully served Aldersgate United Methodist Church as Director of Christian Education, teaching Sunday School and Disciple Bible Study, leading Vacation Bible School, and assisting in worship. At Aldersgate, she will be remembered best for her tireless work to found Aldersgate Church Preschool, the “Preschool of the Warm Heart”, where she enjoyed spending her final years singing Jesus Loves Me and spreading her gifts of love.
Although Mary is remembered most for her devotion to God and her service to the United Methodist Church, Mary also was active in Girl Scouts, United Methodist Women, Garden Club, Bridge Club, and PEO. Her generous spirit touched many lives and she was loved by all who knew her. She and Erle spent many happy summers at Lake Junaluska, where they were honored as Grand Marshals of the 2007 Lake Junaluska July 4th parade.
Mary was preceded in death by her husband, Erle E. Peacock, Jr. She is survived by her brother, James A. Lowrey III (Sidney); her children, James Peacock (Lisabeth), Susan Peacock, and Gayle Peacock Wood; grandchildren, Jennifer Grow (Nicholas), Michael Peacock, Laurel Wood and Robert Wood; and great grandchildren, Charlotte Grow and Vivienne Grow.
Following a private burial service, a memorial service will be held at 2:00 pm, Saturday, July 29 at University United Methodist Church in Chapel Hill. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the Erle and Mary Peacock Charitable Fund, c/o Triangle Community Foundation, PO Box 12729, Durham, NC 27709.
The Peacock family is under the care of Hall-Wynne Funeral Service. Online condolences may be submitted at www.hall-wynne.com.