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Mary Cope Naylor

Updated: 9 hours ago

Mary Cope Naylor (Molly), 88, of Temple Terrace, Florida passed away on January 27, 2024.

Molly was born on December 8, 1935 to Frances Thorndike Cope and Thomas Freeman Cope in Marietta, Ohio. After Molly graduated from Hendrik Hudson High School, Montrose, NY in 1953, she studied at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, NY, graduating in 1957 with a BA in Chemistry.

Later that year, Molly met her future husband Clark (William Clark Naylor) at a dance at the Unitarian Universalist Church in San Diego, California.  After Clark was discharged from the Marine Corps, they both enrolled in graduate school at the University of Cincinnati in 1958, where Molly earned a Masters in Chemistry. Molly and Clark were married on June 13, 1959 in Montrose, NY.

Molly was a devoted wife, and deeply in love with Clark, who adored her. Throughout their lives together, their delight in each other was evident as they called each other pet names, nuzzled and hugged, and traded silly little inside jokes and wordplay. Their deep love and respect for each other became a guiding example and yardstick  against which their children measured possible life partners.

Molly was also a devoted mother, gladly sacrificing herself for her children when necessary. When her daughter had terrible respiratory problems as a baby and young child, Molly was tireless in her care, lugging her to innumerable appointments, learning how to give nebulizer treatments, and even learning how to give shots. When the coal-powered city of Madison worsened Peggy’s asthma symptoms during Clark’s post-graduate work, Molly and Clark uprooted the family to Arizona, where Molly had to function for stretches as a single parent while Clark was away in school in Madison.

Molly always prioritized her children’s education and development—helping with schoolwork, taking them to music lessons, swim practice, and swim meets, being a den mother for Cub Scouts and Brownies. She encouraged reading and playing outdoors, and forbade the mindless consumption of after-school TV. She even ran for and won a seat on the local schoolboard when she thought accelerated programs were at risk of being cut.

Molly worked for years as a biochemist at a research lab at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN. After that, she taught math part-time at junior colleges in Rochester, MN and near Temple Terrace, FL.

Molly was a force of nature--tirelessly active, boundlessly curious, and joyfully social. She was a lifelong reader, devouring books and participating in book clubs. She particularly enjoyed biographies of people who had accomplished something great, finding these stories elevating and inspiring. She loved to be with people—walking with friends, playing Bridge, leading canoe trips for the local Sierra Club, and participating with a local singing club.

Known as “Antelope Cope” in her school track days, Molly was an avid athlete. Always in motion, she loved games of all sorts, especially tennis—both as a player and as a spectator, and continuing playing until late in her seventies.

Molly loved nature and relished being active in the outdoors.  She especially enjoyed walking, downhill skiing, canoeing, kayaking, and swimming. During her youth, Molly took many hiking and canoeing trips amid the mountains and lakes of New England. While she lived in Minnesota, she and her family took trips in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness of northeast Minnesota as well as hiking trips with her daughter and her sister.

Molly remained physically active until the last few months of her life, walking 2 miles a day on nature trails with friends and swimming 2/3 of a mile every day at the local community center.

Molly was preceded in death by her parents Frances Thorndike Cope and Thomas Freeman Cope as well as by her brother Freeman Widener Cope and sister Elizabeth Frances Brunette.

Molly is survived her husband Clark, her children William (Jo), Peggy (Jonas), Robert (Loretta), and their grandchildren Chad, Dwight, Aurum, Bridget, Brandon, and Blake, and great grandchildren Dean and Leon.

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