Mary Charlotte McCall image
Obituary

Mary Charlotte McCall

Mary Charlotte McCall, 77, passed away quietly on the morning of June 28, 2021, in Tacoma, Washington, after a seven-year battle with Alzheimer’s disease. Mary Charlotte – or “Cissy” as she was known in her family and to her five beloved grandchildren – was born on April 22, 1944 in Quincy, Florida, and raised in Monroeville, Alabama and Quincy, Florida. The second of six children born to Samuel Leverte McCall, Sr., and Mary Dorothy McCahill McCall, she was a doting older sister to her four younger siblings, especially to her youngest sister, Nelle. She loved nature from an early age, always preferring to play outside in the woods and in the creek behind her house as a child.

Mary Charlotte was known for her keen intellect and her broad interest in the world around her, including a special passion and love for her Irish ancestry. She skipped her senior year in high school to enroll at age 17 at Florida Presbyterian College (now Eckerd College) in St. Petersburg, Florida, and she graduated with Bachelor of Arts degree in German in 1965. She was later awarded the Suzanne Armacost Alumni Medal for Outstanding Community Service in 1997 and was inducted into Eckerd College’s Golden Triton Society in 2015. She was married to her first husband, William (“Bill”) Love, in December 1962. Following her graduation, they returned to the Panhandle, and later divorced.

Mary Charlotte married Dr. John Jesse Carey on May 22, 1969, and became a caring stepmother to Sarah Kathryn Carey, Marylynn Carey, and Beth Ann Carey. Mary Charlotte and John had two daughters, Joanna Elizabeth Carey and Jessica Charlotte Carey, and were married for 47 years before John’s death on March 2, 2017. Mary Charlotte and John were united in their commitment to social justice and equal rights for all, spending significant time throughout their marriage participating in protests and change efforts to combat racism, speaking out and advocating for women’s rights and LGBTQIA rights, and providing a voice for those who were marginalized in society. They were proud progressives. Mary Charlotte subsequently received her Master of Arts degree in Humanities from Florida State University in 1972. When their oldest daughter started kindergarten, Mary Charlotte started law school at the Florida State University College of Law. She entered as “Cissy Carey” and graduated as “Mary Charlotte McCall”, serving as the Executive Editor of the Law Review and receiving the Sojourner Truth Award. While in law school, she was also an active member of “OWLs” – “older women in law”, and she collected owl figurines throughout her adulthood. Her calling to speak for those who could not speak for themselves defined her years of law practice, where she focused on representing abused and neglected children, women who were subjected to domestic violence or employment discrimination, and death row inmates on appeal. She was a zealous advocate for her clients, committed to public interest law, and tireless in her efforts to seek equality and justice.

She was also active in her community, and served on the board of the Tallahassee Homeless Shelter. She was a lifelong member of the Presbyterian Church (USA), serving as an elder of her local churches, including First Presbyterian Church in Tallahassee, assisting her husband John in his ministry and church administration especially at Immanuel Presbyterian Church in Anchorage, Alaska, and answering the call to serve on the church’s national committees. She considered it a high honor to serve on the Presbyterian Church’s Committee on Social Witness Policy, and to be appointed to the Presbyterian Church’s General Assembly Permanent Judicial Commission, on which she served as a Commissioner prior to her Alzheimer’s diagnosis.

Mary Charlotte also was known as a patient and tender caregiver, nurturing her younger siblings, her daughters and stepdaughters, her nieces and nephews, her mother, her husband, and others throughout her life. She raised her daughters to absolutely believe they could – and would – achieve any dream they had and that she would fight to remove any barriers along the way.

She cherished her time with all babies and small children and delighted in being grandmother Cissy to her four granddaughters and grandson. They will remember her unconditional love and support for them, her joy in playing with them, and their time walking together and exploring outdoors. She was an outstanding cook, who as a Florida teenager won county awards for her homemade biscuits and was later recognized in Epicurious magazine for her delicious Chocolate-Buttermilk Sheet Cake. She was a voracious reader and skilled writer and editor, known for providing salient and helpful feedback. She excelled in spirited discussions and debates on topics from law to politics to religion to popular culture and more, and she rarely lost an argument. She had a quick wit and sly sense of humor and enjoyed traveling. Throughout her life, gardening and being in nature was her respite and restorative hobby. She had an amazing talent for making any and all plants thrive, especially African violets, and even successfully tended orchids while battling Alzheimer’s. She also loved animals. She could identify most any bird by their call, and had “Miss Sophie” as a longtime parrot companion. She happily stocked multiple birdfeeders around her house – and even had charity and compassion for the interloping squirrels. She even had a squirrel and peacocks as pets along the way. She always had a special place in her heart for dogs of all kind and rarely was without a dog during her adult life. Dingle, Leibchen, Schnickelfritz, Toffee, Teddy, Smokey, Butch, Sugar, Bishop, Bridgit, Pookie, and MacGhee all brought joy to her over the past fifty years.

Following John’s death, Mary Charlotte’s daughters and stepdaughters are especially thankful for the partnership and care that Harvey Jeffries provided and the love that he and Mary Charlotte had for each other in her final years. His devotion to her extended her ability to live at home for much longer than expected, and brought her much needed normalcy and connection. The family is also forever grateful for the care provided by the Weatherly Inn Memory Care staff in Tacoma and by Virginia Mason Franciscan Hospice Care.

Mary Charlotte was preceded in death by her father, Samuel Leverte McCall, Sr., her mother, Mary Dorothy McCahill McCall, her brothers, Samuel Leverte (“Buddy”) McCall, Jr. and Curtis Ames McCall, and her husband, Dr. John Jesse Carey. She is survived by her sisters, Virginia Louise (“Ginny Lou”) Laughlin of Raleigh, North Carolina and Nelle Elizabeth McCall of Sopchoppy, Florida; her brother, Edward Carlyle (“Carlyle”) McCall (Wendy) of Daphne, Alabama; her two daughters, Joanna Carey Cleveland (Sam) of Tacoma, Washington, and Jessica Carey Graham (Jason) of Anchorage, Alaska; her three stepdaughters, Sarah Kathryn Carey (Chad Hunsaker) of Gainesville, Florida, Marylynn Carey of Tallahassee, Florida, and Beth Ann Carey of Tallahassee, Florida; her five grandchildren: Jada Marina Graham (19), Jolie Cay Graham (17), Jersey Meridian Graham (15), John Carey (“Jack”) Cleveland (12), and Susanna Elizabeth Cleveland (10); her many loving cousins, nieces, and nephews; her partner, Harvey Jeffries, and her first husband, William (“Bill”) Love.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the Alzheimer’s Association, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), or The Kearney Center in Tallahassee. The family encourages those who knew and loved Mary Charlotte to remember her by finding a quiet time to take a walk on the beach, in the woods, in a meadow, or in the mountains to listen to the sounds of nature around them, rest in the grace of the world, and be free.

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