“She was a very independent person,” says Carly (Jackie) Hellen ’53 of the older sister known both as Mary Lee and Lee, who passed away in March 2013. “To her, independence was important. George School gave her stability, grounded her, and helped her become who she was.”
Mary Lee was like many other young people who discover and embrace who they are during their formative years at George School. Lee was aided by mentors Pete Hess, her field hockey coach, and Dr. Mohr, a history teacher.
She developed a love of “the people part of history,” as Jackie calls it, and pursued her interest by studying political science at Earlham College, working as a guide at the United Nations, and teaching middle school social studies in Rye, New York. When she wasn’t teaching, she was traveling around the world, preferring trips where she “really got to know people and learn about their cultures. A lot of that stemmed from the George School influence.”
Another big George School influence was her close-knit group of friends. Jackie remembers these Brown House girls as independent thinkers like her sister. The Brown House girls stayed in touch over the years, and Mary Lee rarely missed a reunion.
Though the sisters were brought up as birthright Quakers, Jackie said it was at George School that Lee “began to have a real understanding of who and what Quakers are. She became an activist and championed the rights of other people.”
After retiring, Mary Lee moved to New Harbor, Maine, where she was a voice for the needy and underprivileged through volunteer work with the Bristol Lions, Friends of Colonial Pemaquid, and especially the Community Housing Improvement Program.
More about Mary Lee:
Mary Lee was a longtime donor to the Annual Fund and included George School in her will. As her sister put it, “I know Mary Lee loved the idea that her bequest would help future generations of students become their best selves.”
* John M. George Society members have included George School in their estate plans and informed the school of their commitment.