Mary Suzan Darlene Clement, 88, passed away peacefully at Oak Cottages of Santa Barbara Memory Care on July 29, 2023, after a prolonged, gracious battle with Alzheimer disease.
In her final weeks, she was surrounded by her loving family, and under the constant care of Oak Cottages, VNA Health, and Love & Care companion angels who helped us guide her to her forever home in heaven.
Born in Fargo, North Dakota, Mary was raised in Alexandria, Minnesota, where she grew up until she graduated from high school.
Never a fan of the cold Midwest winters, in 1954 she hopped in a car with her two best friends, and drove cross-country to sunny San Diego, California, where she fell in love with the weather and met the love of her life, Harvey. On July 4, 1957, they married, and quickly started a family.
In 1960, Mary and Harvey moved to Santa Barbara, where they raised their three children and remained for the rest of their lives.
As a devoted mom, Mary’s life revolved around, and was dedicated to, caring for and supporting her family (immediate and extended), friends, community, and house of faith.
Her long list of talents and abilities included, being a phenomenal seamstress, baker, crafter, organizer, hostess and artist. These served her well as she raised her hand to lead bible study, sew liturgical vestments, serve as Eucharistic minister and parish council member, lead PTA, Boy/Girl Scout troops, as well as help parent volunteer for sport teams (swim, water polo and tennis) and other extracurricular activities including band, orchestra, school plays and choir.
If something needed to be done, Mary was ready to lean in, help, contribute and get it done with a big smile. She was not only dependable but a thoughtful team player and collaborator, making everyone feel welcome and included, while ensuring assignments/duties completed on time with excellence.
Mary came from humble beginnings and had a tremendous work ethic. As her children grew older, she returned to full-time work outside the home serving primarily in executive assistant roles throughout her career in human services, oil and gas, travel, law, and financial services industries and organizations.
Mary was repeatedly recognized for her professionalism, emotional intelligence, situational awareness, attention to detail, and positive attitude.
Mary was an extraordinary listener and safe sounding board. Her innate, natural kindness touched many lives. She was filled with gratitude and had a gift of making sure the people she appreciated in her life knew it.
It was not unusual for her to show up the day after getting her car serviced, having her teeth cleaned, meeting with her financial advisor, or getting her hair done with one of her beautifully wrapped, homemade delicious baked goodie care packages with a handwritten note of thanks for their help, services or friendship.
From the checker at the grocery store to the teller at her bank, Mary not only remembered people’s names, but listened to them, showed a genuine interest in them, their families, how their day was going. From visit to visit, she remembered their “story” with a welcoming, authentic smile or hug.
Often, a newspaper, magazine article or recipe she thought would interest you, or be helpful would end up in your mailbox, on your bedside table or kitchen counter.
She was fiercely loyal and adored her close special multi-generational friendships that spanned decades. She spent time nurturing those friendships and counted them among her biggest blessings, even as Alzheimer’s took her cognitive abilities later in life.
Mary also had a deep affection for children and animals, especially babies and doggies of any kind.
Mary and Harvey’s home was a joy-filled gathering place for countless friends and family to enjoy family dinners, barbecues, celebrations, and their epic annual Fiesta and Christmas parties.
Refusing to cater for these events, Mary thoughtfully built menus and made end-to-end buffet offerings including her famous empanadas, Margaritas and eggnog (the real stuff).
Her home was your home, she was a generous host, always kind, making each guest feel welcome, seen, and part of the festivities.
In 1994, she became a young widow. Over the next 20 years she beat breast and bladder cancer, got two new eyes and two new hips. Through it all, she was resilient, stoic, manifested a good sense of humor, and had a positive, grateful attitude focused on others.
In the 30 years after Harvey passed, Mary was intentional about continuing to expand her knowledge. She enrolled in SBCC classes taking writing, political science, journalism, and art courses.
Mary was a natural artist and quickly blossomed into a beautiful painter, gifting special pieces to family and friends. She was blessed to travel to Europe several times, visiting places and enjoying experiences she longed for her whole life.
But from day one, the center of Mary’s world was her family, children Julie (Paul) Capritto, James Clement, Chris (Deanna) Clement; grandchildren Kevin (Tavion) Clement, Matt Capritto, Antonya Capritto, Lauren Capritto, Kyle (Madison) Clement, Abby (Travis) Bachman and Melanie Clement; and great grandchildren Kyro Clement, Kelbi Clement, and Charlie Bachman.
This tribe was Mary’s “why statement.” Being together, breaking bread, cooking/baking, laughing together, attending sporting events, graduations, gatherings, and celebrations of any kind. She loved her family with all her heart and strived to be sure we knew it.
Along with her family noted above, Mary leaves behind two younger siblings Andrew (Eileen) Goodrich of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and Deni Jones of San Diego, California; as well as nieces, nephews, grandnieces and grandnephews.
Her generous and kindness filled character, spirit of gratitude, attentive listening and loving spirit continues to live on through us all, and she will be forever in our hearts.
Special thanks to the wonderful people instrumental in helping Mary be able to stay “at home” safe, cared for, comfortable and loved as we guided her through her long Alzheimer journey. These include Home Instead, Oak Cottages of Santa Barbara Memory Care, Family Service Agency, VNA Health, and Love & Care.
In lieu of flowers, donations in memory of Mary Clement can be made to Women’s Fund of Santa Barbara, Care4Paws and VNA Health Santa Barbara.
A celebration of Mary’s life is planned for Oct. 28 in Santa Barbara. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org .