Mary Ann Duval Bright
February 2, 1943 – February 2, 2020
“It’s nice to have a love like that in life”
Mary Ann was born in winter in the midst of World War II Washington, DC, to Mary Elizabeth Jackson Duval and Robert Duval. Her father was in the military, stationed at Quantico, and her mother lived on Arkansas Avenue with little Mary Ann’s grandmother, Lucy Jackson and grandfather, William Henry Jackson, with mother Mary’s sister, Vieta. Mary Ann became a sister about a year later, to Patty. Mary Ann’s grandfather would be the one to introduce her to reading and the joys of books. She learned to read very early, at about three, starting with a set of books called The Bobsy Twins. That early reading would transform into a lifelong love of books and reading anything related to the law.
In the 1950’s, Mary Ann’s mother remarried to Cleo Henry Tanner, “Joe” as he preferred to be called. She became a big sister again to Kathy and Joe, loved to swim and helped build the family beach house in Annapolis. Later that decade, her family moved to Arlington, Virginia, where she would spend most of the rest of her life. The 1960’s carried her into young adulthood. Somewhere in the early 60’s she went to work for Bobby Kennedy’s Chief of Staff under the Kennedy Administration. She was an incredibly fast typist and stenographer while her intelligence adapted her skills to the tasks of being a paralegal and executive legal secretary. She became a mother to a daughter, Elysa, in January, 1964. In 1966, she became a mother again, to a son, Edward, affectionately called Teddy.
It was because of where she worked and lived that she was part of some important events of the 1960’s. When Martin Luther King, Jr., was assassinated, she spent days packing groceries amid the riots and fires that swept DC. She rode the funeral train of Bobby Kennedy to his funeral. She said it was one of the saddest things she ever took part in. When Chappaquiddick happened, she was in the room while the official record of events was recorded. She left public service soon after and went to work for “the rainmakers” in some of the largest law firms in DC.
By the 1970’s her children were getting bigger. Mary Ann took Elysa and Ted to museums and wonderful restaurants. All three enjoyed frequent Sunday dinners with family on Lexington Street. Mary Ann was a bridesmaid to both of her sisters when they were married. She became an aunt three times over during that decade to Jesse and Jay and Christopher. She loved being part of family times in both Annapolis and Ocean City, which included frozen daiquiris and large crab dinners, during the summer. Not surprisingly, she was often found on a dock over the water reading a book and soaking in the sun at a time when that seemed like a harmless way to relax.
In the 80’s and 90’s she became a grandmother to Harrison, Taylor, Cade, Tanner and Dane. Mary Ann also became aunt again to Anna, Jennie, Katie, Christine and Cortney. Throughout the decades she remained an avid reader and tutor/teacher to family and friends’ children. She was close to the extended Asif family, especially to their children.
Mary Ann loved culture in many of its forms, from art and history, to food and fashion, to dance and music. Travelling frequently, she valued being up on current affairs and world events. A full picture of her can reveal that she had a particular talent for manufacturing drama. She never discriminated where she employed this talent or with whom. It has given us many great stories shared over the years, some better in retrospect than at the time. She was always teaching… he was strong-willed but vulnerable. She was witty & wryly funny but incredibly frustrating at times. She knew how to take care of herself well and loved beautiful things. She was very polite with excellent manners. She was smart and persistent and didn’t suffer fools well.
By the end of 2000’s first decade, some of the infirmities of age arrived. Mary Ann’s love of reading took a sad turn by this time with deteriorating vision. When reading became basically impossible and physical disability limited her, she became more reflective and introspective. Entering the next decade didn’t prove to be any easier. 2011 & 2012 were particularly difficult. Those challenges, though, revealed Mary Ann’s continued persistence to remain active and independent. In 2016, she moved to Connecticut and life’s challenges were even more difficult yet provided the closeness she and Elysa wanted.
Mary Ann always had a deep love and concern for family, through thick and thin, whether in touch or out-of-touch. She is survived by her sister Kathy and her husband, Jimmy, of Suffolk, Virginia, and nephews Jesse & Jay and niece, Anna; daughter Elysa and grandchildren Harrison, Taylor and Tanner; son, Ted, and grandsons Cade and Dane; nieces Jennie and Katie and Chrissy and Cortney; the newest additions, great grandson Michael and great nephew Tanner. Mary Ann was very close to and is survived by her very good friends the Asif Family: Talat, Asif, Adeel, Iqra and Tehmeena. Their extended family shared many good times in mutual company with Mary Ann, something that she enjoyed very much.
All of these times and traits, people and places, helped make her who she was. Not long before she passed, she had really nice talks with her son, Teddy, and with one of her closest friends, Tehmeena. Just a few days before her passing, Elysa and Tanner got to see her smile and say ‘I love you’. She left us unexpectedly but with many memories and great stories, these last moments among them. It’s nice to have a love like that in life, isn’t it?
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