Mary Carlton Croghan
July 19, 1938 – March 9, 2018
Mary MacNeill Carlton Croghan, born July 19, 1938, grew up in Gardner, Massachusetts, the only child of Spencer and Catharine Campbell Lambeth Carlton. Her father’s family were New Englanders, her mother’s Southerners. Each summer, when she was a child, she and her mother took a train from Massachusetts to North Carolina to spend time in a rural family enclave called “Riverton,” on the Lumbee River in Scotland County. Later, she moved to the Tar Heel State and lived here for most of her adult life.
Her passions were music and her large extended family. She played piano and flute from an early age. She majored in music at Wellesley College, where she entranced her dorm mates with glorious impromptu piano recitals before dinner. After graduation from Wellesley, in 1960, she lived in New York City for a brief time, working in publishing. She then moved to Winston-Salem, NC, where she taught English at Gray High School and, in 1964, became the first Registrar of the newly founded N.C. School of the Arts. She went on to earn a Masters degree in remedial reading at Duke University, where she met her husband, Leo Croghan, a psychologist. The Croghans first lived in Elizabeth City, then moved to Fayetteville, where Mary MacNeill worked as an instructor in a computer learning lab at Fayetteville Technical Institute.
After her husband died, in 1988, she continued to live in Fayetteville until 2007, when she moved to Raleigh. For the next decade, her focus was on music. She studied flute with Pam Nelson and was an active member of the Raleigh Area Flute Association. She played regularly with RAFA’s Silver Fantasy flute choir, the Second Winds group, another flute quartet, and the orchestra of Pullen Memorial Baptist Church.
Throughout her life, she spent much time in her second home, “Riverton," among her many relatives. She was a natural storyteller with a prodigious memory, recalling droll remarks and witticisms uttered over the years by friends and family members. Having no children of her own, she had a family of hundreds who loved her for her bright spirit, her wit, her curiosity about their lives and the grace with which she lived her own.
She is survived by many cousins, including Kate Blackwell (Felix Jakob) of Washington, DC, Ruth Blackwell Rogers (Hugh) of Kerens, WVA, Mary Beth Blackwell-Chapman (Chris Chapman) of Lewisville, NC, Charles F. Lambeth of Los Angeles, CA, George F. Lambeth (Brandi) of Thomasville, NC, Cal Morse and David Morse of La Jolla, CA, Brent Plyler of Riverton, NC, William Plyler (Sally) of Raleigh, Ella Frantz (Stuart) of Raleigh, Caroline Webb Smart (David) of Raleigh, and Will Webb of Raleigh.
A memorial service will be held Tuesday, March 13, at 11 am at Pullen Memorial Baptist Church, 1801 Hillsborough St., Raleigh NC 276054.
Memorial gifts in honor of Mary MacNeill may be given to the Catharine Campbell and Daniel White Scholarship Fund in care of the North Carolina Community Foundation in Raleigh, or to the Raleigh Area Flute Association.
- Memorial Service Tuesday, March 13, 2018