Mary M. Staples
June 19, 1930 – March 4, 2021
After ninety years of life well lived Mary “Terry” Matheson Staples passed away peacefully at home on Thursday, March 4th, 2021 with her devoted husband by her side. She was born on June 19th, 1930 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The daughter of William “Bill” Bertram Matheson and Elizabeth “Polly” Knappen, she grew up in the city with her siblings, Stuart and Patricia, and attended E. Grand Rapids High where she met her husband, James Gee Staples, Sr. Never one to shy away from mischief, Terry introduced herself to James by poking him with a compass in the rear during class; a gesture which got his attention and prompted him to ask her on a date that night and later, to be his wife. The two were married in 1953, and in December celebrated 67 years of wedded joy. A graduate from the University of Michigan’s College of Architecture and Design, Terry worked as a middle school teacher with children with special needs for three years while helping to put her husband through law school in Ann Arbor. A reticent leader, but known by her peers to be fair-minded and wise, she served as President of the PTA during an especially turbulent time and later as President of the Evanston Garden Club. Terry was a true matriarch raising three children: Sarah Wagner (Michael), Elizabeth Williams (David) and Jim Staples Jr (Alissa) in Evanston, IL while supporting all of her children’s interests and activities. She was a gifted artist, with a unique talent for Japanese Sumi paintings, which she hung in her home, prompting visitors to remark about their museum quality. Terry also loved animals, traveling to see them in the wild, and all the treasures nature provided. She especially loved taking walks through the Michigan woods or along its western coastline. She never took for granted the beauty of the world.
Terry is survived by her husband, her three children, ten grandchildren (John Wagner, Claire Wagner, Kate Wagner, Becca Wagner, Brad Williams, Matt Williams, Emma Williams, James Staples, Isabella Staples and Lilly Staples) and numerous other relatives and friends. Graceful, loving, humble, respectful, inquisitive, generous, commanding, kind, artistic, elegant and quick to laugh or tease with a twinkle in her eye, she will remain the living personification of moral clarity, tenacity, kindness and selflessness for those who had the honor of knowing her. Her family would like to extend gratitude to the aides that have facilitated her independence. She will be dearly missed.