For Immediate Release
November 6, 2019
The only measure of your words and your deeds will be the love you leave behind when you’re done.
— Fred Small
Mary Anne Flournoy certainly left a lot of love, and many of our lives are richer for having known her.
“What can I do to help?”
When Carol Kuhre remembers Mary Anne, that’s the phrase that comes to mind.
“If I were to call and talk about one of my kids, she would say, ‘What can I do to help?’ If I were to call her and say I don’t how how I’m going to make payroll this month, she’d say, ‘What can I do to help?’ It didn’t matter how small or how mammoth the concern was, she’d say, ‘What can I do to help?’
“We were so close we were like the Bobbsey Twins,” says Carol, who met Mary Anne when she and her husband, Don, moved to Athens in the mid-1970s. “People often mistook us for each other. We were that close. We sat next to each other in church. We talked to each other every day. And in creating Rural Action, there was a gang of us who did it.
“Rural Action would not be what it is today without her generosity,” Carol says.
“Mary Anne Flournoy served in many capacities with Rural Action over the years: a founder, a Board President, a staff member, a donor, a visionary, a teller of truths and a dear friend,” Rural Action CEO Debbie Phillips says. “I had the great good fortune to work with Mary Anne on the efforts in the early 2000s to engage the local community in planning and design of new school buildings in our region, and what little I know of patience and careful listening I learned from her.”
Mary Anne passed away on Oct. 23, leaving a legacy of service, caring, and wisdom. She accomplished much and touched many people throughout her 79 years. She taught in inner-city and Appalachian schools. She served as the associate director for International Studies at Ohio University. She and Don founded the Sugar Bush Foundation in 2005 to advocate for collaboration between OU and the community in driving sustainable economic development in Appalachian Ohio. Local organizations ranging from Rural Action to Planned Parenthood to Christ Lutheran Church all benefited from her tireless efforts. And she didn’t limit her good works to Ohio. She thought locally and globally, running teacher exchanges to Southern Africa and helping in the creation of the Zienzele Foundation for AIDs orphans and widows in Zimbabwe.
Mary Anne’s family invites anyone who knew her to visit with them on Saturday, Dec. 14 at the First United Methodist Church, 2 S. College St. in Athens from 2-3 p.m., followed by a memorial celebration of her life from 3-4 p.m. In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation to the Sugar Bush Foundation. Click the “Give” link on the site and select “Friends of the Sugar Bush Foundation” from the dropdown menu. Checks can be made payable to The Ohio University Foundation, P.O. Box 869, Athens, OH 45701, with “Friends of the Sugar Bush Foundation” on the memo line.
In addition, Rural Action plans to honor Mary Anne’s memory with a pollinator garden. If you are interested in working on this project, please contact Debbie.