Mary Duryee kept her family’s legacy real estate business going during World War II. Educated, enthusiastic and the devoted mother of two daughters, she and her husband Dan Duryee were avid supporters of area nonprofits. As a Camp Fire leader, she was known as “Miss Mary.”
“She was one of the last great ladies of Everett,” said Judy Matheson, a longtime friend.
For more than a century, her beloved Everett was home. Born June 10, 1918, Mary Webb Duryee was nearing her 101st birthday when she died April 22.
“The Duryee family has meant so much to the city,” said local historian Margaret Riddle, who in 2008 wrote a profile of Mary Duryee as part of the Snohomish County Women’s Legacy Project. “She lived a life like nobody does these days.”
The only child of O.T. Webb, once the county’s prosecutor, and his wife, Mandy Webb, Mary was born at home at 1311 Grand Ave. Her parents lived just a few blocks from the north Everett home where Mary and her husband would live for decades and raise their family.
Daughters Maureen Duryee and Margaret “Mugsy” Duryee remember their mother as a proper woman of her time. A 1935 graduate of Everett High School, she delighted in her lifelong friendships. She considered a law degree but majored in history at the University of Washington, where she was president of her Kappa Alpha Theta sorority.
By the summer of 1941, Mary had married Dan Duryee Jr. His father, Daniel Duryee Sr. — or “Big Dan,” as he was often described — headed the family’s Everett real estate business, D.A. Duryee and Co. An 1898 graduate of Everett High, his example of community service was echoed by his family’s next generation.
The family’s local history dates back to the city’s beginnings. One of Dan Sr.’s grandmothers was an Everett pioneer who in 1894 was among the founders of the Woman’s Book Club, which started the public library.
As an eighth-grader at North Junior High, Mary met her future father-in-law when she won a Rotary Club achievement award. It was years before a friend would introduce her to Dan Jr.
After the attack on Pearl Harbor, her husband joined the Army. During World War II, while he was away at Camp Roberts in California, Mary Duryee became one of the first women in Washington to get a real estate license. With Daniel Duryee Sr. as a mentor, she ran the business. When the war ended, she handed that work back to her husband and became a homemaker and mother.
“The phone rang all the time. She was a busy lady,” said Maureen Duryee, 71, of Snohomish.
Mugsy Duryee, 67, lives on Guemes Island. Her nickname came from one of her mother’s best girlhood friends, Margaret “Mugs” Sevenich Daly. “My mom had these wonderful girlfriends,” she said.
“They were grand ladies. There are not a lot of those left,” said Mugsy Duryee, who owns the Red Snapper Gift Store in Anacortes. She remembers times when “my mother wouldn’t let us go to downtown Everett in our jeans — we had to get dressed up.”
Dan Duryee Jr. was 73 when he died in 1990. Along with her daughters, Mary Duryee is survived by granddaughter Amanda Duryee Peterson, grandson Gavin Dahl, and 4-month-old great-granddaughter Ember Dahl.
Riddle, who retired as a history specialist at the Everett Public Library in 2008, said Mary and Dan Duryee were generous donors.
“The Northwest Room would not have existed without community support,” Riddle said. She recalled the library receiving an “anonymous check” for $20,000. “We knew it came from them,” she said.
In 1997, Mary Duryee donated records for the Everett Land Co. and its successor, the Everett Improvement Co., to the Everett Public Library. Dan Duryee Jr. had served as manager for the now-closed Everett Improvement Co., which his father and grandfather also had managed.
Mary Duryee and her late husband’s partner, Stephen Saunders, found the dusty old papers in the basement of an Everett office building. David Dilgard, a retired library historian who died last year, said at the time of the donation that the documents were invaluable.
Matheson, who owns J. Matheson Gifts in downtown Everett, knew Mary Duryee as a customer and friend. “She had such a positive attitude,” said Matheson. “I just truly adored her.”
In 2007, United Way of Snohomish County honored Mary Duryee with its Reeves/Sievers Founders’ Award for her service and philanthropy. Camp Fire, the Providence General Children’s Association, the American Red Cross, YMCA of Snohomish County, Little Red School House and the Everett Symphony were among the many organizations she supported. After her husband’s death, she established a charitable trust in his name.
“She loved Everett and didn’t want to live anywhere else,” Mugsy Duryee said.
Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460; firstname.lastname@example.org.
A memorial service for Mary Duryee is scheduled for 1 p.m. July 13 at First Presbyterian Church of Everett, 2936 Rockefeller Ave.