Dr. Mary's Story

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Dr. Mary Elizabeth Gutermuth was the only child of Ervin Henry and Christine (Minges) Gutermuth. She was born in Columbia, Missouri, on August 27, 1938, in the final years of the Great Depression. Like so many of her generation, she was marked by that experience with a strong work ethic and an inclination to make do and use what you had. She attended Saint Elizabeth Academy in Saint Louis, graduated in 1960 from Saint Louis University with a BS in French, and earned her MA, also in French, from the University of Missouri in 1961. After studying at the Sorbonne in Paris, she obtained a Certificat de Langue Française in 1962.  She received her Ph.D. in 1965 at the University of Missouri, with a dissertation on Feminism in the novels of Louis Aragon. Her specialty was French and Spanish Renaissance literature.
She taught at Loyola of Chicago from 1965 to 1967, then moved to Huntsville, Texas, where she lived in "the avenues" for the rest of her life, teaching at Sam Houston State University from 1967 to 2012. Mary came to Sam Houston as an Associate Professor of Foreign Languages, teaching French and occasionally Spanish. In due course, she was promoted to Professor and retired as Professor Emeritus. For two different periods, she served as coordinator of the department. As is expected of professors, she was active in scholarship, publishing articles and for 20 years serving on the governing editorial committee of the French XX Bibliography.
Mary lived a long and active life, holding office in a multitude of organizations at the national, state, university, and community level. (She served, for example, as a faculty senator for 30 years.) After retirement, Mary continued to be active in church work, book club, and AAUW. She frequently had friends in for a glass of French wine and Texas country cooking (no al dente on her table). She loved to travel across the Americas and to Europe and Africa (particularly the French-speaking areas).  She always claimed it was to maintain her French, but we all knew it was for love of travel and the cultures.
Mary's widowed mother came with her to Huntsville. After her death, Mary created a family of friends who will mourn her greatly. The son of one of her friends, himself a college teacher, writes: "She attended our church, Saint Thomas, and I have known her since before I could speak coherently.  To my sisters and me, she was Aunt Mary.  She was family.  She could be hard to deal with, because in order to get where she was, she had to become a relentless battering ram that could stubborn its way through the ocean of discrimination women of her generation had to deal with.  But she was very generous to us.... Farewell, Mary.  You loved us, and we loved you. Sometimes we all fought, because even the best families fight.  But all my other relatives were too far away to be part of our lives in the way you were.  God bless you, and I hope to see you in a few decades in Heaven." 
Unfortunately, from Christmas 2014, Mary's health was in heavy decline due to ongoing problems with diabetes and kidney failure. She passed away on Memorial Day, May 30, 2016. We wish she'd lasted a little longer,   But death is always too soon.
Mary is survived by her friends in Huntsville and throughout the nation and her cousins in Missouri: Tom and Mary Boschert, Don and Rose Branson, Robert and Eileen Engemann, Thomas and Carroll Schneider, and Patti Schneider Sweeney.
There will be a celebration of her life on Friday evening, June 3, beginning at 6, with a Rosary at 7 at the Sam Houston Memorial Funeral Home, 1700 Normal Park. The funeral will be at St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church, 1328 16th Street, on Saturday morning, June 4 at 11 with food and fellowship afterwards. In lieu of flowers, friends may feel free to donate to their favorite charity or to the scholarship fund at Sam Houston State. She will be buried in Resurrection Cemetery in St. Louis with her parents.
Full obituary may be viewed and memorial condolences made to the family at www.shmfh.com.
Published on June 1, 2016
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