Mary Beth Prude

June 21, 1922September 8, 2020

Mary Beth lived her 98 plus years to the fullest devoted to her family, and her passions included a career in education, hosting dinner parties and bridge clubs, travel and volunteering. She was highly organized, a grand conversationalist, joke teller, college football fan, and friend.

Born in Birmingham to two Birmingham City School teachers, Anna Hostetler Powell and John Celle Powell, she attributed her positive outlook in life to her Mennonite ancestry.

Mary Beth graduated from Ensley High School where she was voted “Miss Yellow Jacquette.” She was a member of Zeta Tau Alpha at Birmingham-Southern College, and graduated with a major in English and a minor in French. She met her husband, Mitchell in the Youth Department at McCoy Methodist Church, and they were students together at ‘Southern, marrying in 1943. They were married for 65 years.

Mary Beth taught 5th grade in the 1960s in Birmingham City Schools. She then earned her M.A. at the University of Alabama in Guidance and Counseling and was instrumental in establishing the Guidance Program in 1967 in Birmingham City Schools. Also a psychometrist, she enjoyed administering IQ tests with elementary children and loved their sometimes funny answers!

Mary Beth and Mitchell were 50 year members of McCoy Methodist Church. After the closing of McCoy, they joined First United Methodist downtown and were members of the Wesley Sunday School Class.

Mary Beth enjoyed travel with Mitchell and close friends in the U.S. and abroad, music, good books, bridge, playing the piano, keeping journals since 1960, and adopting rescue pets. She served for several years as social chair for BSC faculty and staff events, tutored at Better Basics and volunteered at the Firehouse Shelter.

To honor her namesake great granddaughter, Mary Beth Buchman, Mary Beth Prude created a “Grandmother Memory Book” complete with snapshots which included the tales of her Mennonite family and her interesting life’s journey. Copies were shared with families of all 7 of her great grandchildren.

Preceded in death by her husband Mitchell, parents and two brothers, Dr. Ralph Powell and Stanley Powell, Mary Beth is survived by daughter Audrey Ann Wilson and husband Jim, son Joel Prude and wife Jayne, 4 cherished grandchildren, James Wilson III and wife Scottie, Haley Buchman and husband Kevin, Dr. Alyson Prude, Tommy McCain and wife Dr. Stephanie McCain. She is also survived by seven adored great grandchildren, Will (23) and Mary Beth (20) Buchman, Austin (20), Andrew (20), and John (17) Wilson, Marren (8) and Hawkins (6) McCain, and her faithful kitty Molly (8).

Last March, due to the COVID-19 threat, Mary Beth moved to daughter Audrey Ann’s and Jim’s home, was blessed to have had only a recent three week decline in health, and died peacefully in her sleep at home with her family. We are deeply grateful to caregivers Shun, Leah, Jackie, Sylvia, and Neema for their constant and loving care during the past few weeks.

Due to concern regarding COVID-19, a family graveside service will be held Friday, September 11 at 1:45 p.m. at Elmwood Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Birmingham Humane Society, Birmingham-Southern College, or First United Methodist Church.

Fond memories and expressions of sympathy may be shared at for the Prude family.


  • Graveside Service

    Friday, September 11, 2020


Mary Beth Prude

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