Mary H. Bready, whose career as head of the upper school at St. Paul’s School for Girls spanned more than two decades and whose book, “Through All Our Days,” is a history of the Brooklandville school, died March 31 from complications of dementia at Roland Park Place. She was 93.
“Mary was a very intelligent and versatile lady and a very fine person,” said Mary Frances Wagley, headmistress of St. Paul’s School for Girls from 1966 until her retirement in 1978. “She had a subtle sense of humor that was based on her intelligence.”
“She was not an outgoing person but rather a private one, but give her the right question and she’d respond in paragraphs,” said Mrs. Wagley, a Cockeysville resident. “Mary was just a good old-fashioned person.”
Elizabeth Mary Hortop was the daughter of Oscar William “Ted” Hortop, a Maryland Casualty Co. senior accountant, and Doris E. Feather, a homemaker.
She was born in Baltimore and spent her early years on Radnor Avenue in Govans. The family moved in the late 1930s to a home on Whiteford Avenue in the city’s Radnor-Winston neighborhood.
She was a 1939 graduate of Eastern High School, and was a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Goucher College, where she obtained a bachelor’s degree in French. In 1966, she received a master’s degree in literature and fine arts from the Johns Hopkins University.
In 1941 she met James Hall Bready, who at the time was serving with the Army at Edgewood Arsenal, at the Enoch Pratt Free Library branch on Bellona Avenue in Govans, where she was working.
They married in 1943.
Mr. Bready later became an Evening Sun editorial writer, and worked with the newspaper for more than three decades. He retired in 1985, and died in 2011.
For 50 years, the couple lived on Gladstone Avenue in Roland Park, where they raised their three sons. They later moved to the Villages at Homeland.
Family and friends recall how devoted the couple were to each other.
“Jim and Mary went to a dinner party one time and they vowed to talk to the people on their right and left,” said Mary Ellen Thomsen, a Roland Park resident who headed the school from 1978 to 1986.
“They tried valiantly to talk to [others], but ended up talking to each other across the table,” she laughed.
They were also known for their annual Gladstone Avenue Christmas party. It annually drew Baltimore’s elite, and the couple staged the event for decades. It wasn’t uncommon to see the governor, the mayor, City Council members, authors, newspaper folk, artists and sports figures sipping a drink in their living room or entranceway.
In 1952, Mrs. Bready was diagnosed with polio, which required her to learn how to walk again.
“She never asked for any help with her lameness that was caused by polio, and only mentioned it one time,” Mrs. Wagley recalled. “We were attending a workshop watching some dancers when she said, ‘I wish I could dance.’ She toughed it out and and had a great spirit.”
Mrs. Bready began teaching French at St. Paul’s School for Girls in 1960 and later taught art history.
She was later promoted to head the upper school, and was in charge of students from the the ninth through the 12th grades.
Mrs. Bready was considered the bulwark of the school. When Rosalind Levering, the first headmistress of St. Paul’s, retired in 1996, she left behind a card for Mrs. Wagley with some useful advice.
“She wrote that I’d be hard-pressed to run the school without Mary — and that was the truth,” Mrs. Wagley said.
“Mary was one of those people you might not have known how much she cared about the students,” said Mrs. Thomsen. “If the faculty recommended that a girl for academic reasons go to another school, she worried what it would do to her self-esteem. She worried about the students and what such a situation would do to a girl.”
After her retirement in 1987, Mrs. Bready remained at St. Paul’s as school archivist, and in 1998 wrote “Through All Our Days,” a history of the school dating back to its roots in 1799.
She shared her husband’s passion for the Baltimore Orioles. He had written “The Home Team,” an illustrated history of Baltimore baseball, and followed it in 1999 with “Baseball in Baltimore: The first 100 Years.”
“She did share Jim’s love of the Orioles,” Mrs. Wagley said. “She had in her contract that she would be off for opening day, and I did that for 12 years.”
Mrs. Bready also enjoyed Little League baseball. She served as secretary for the Roland Park Midget Baseball League Inc. — now Roland Park Little League Baseball — 1958 to 1962 when her three sons were players.
“It was such fun. I love baseball whether it’s good or bad, and there were many funny moments during those games,” she told The Baltimore Sun in 2001.
“The games started at 6 p.m., and there were always several mothers dressed up for dinner parties. Several of the dogs would go into a nearby stream and get muddy and wet,” she said. “When they came back, they would invariably go right to the dressed ladies. It really was so funny.”
In addition to writing and gardening, Mrs. Bready was a collector, and was considered an expert on thimbles.
“I am an extrovert. I talk to myself, to the dog, to the furniture. And I really need other people in my life,” she wrote in an unpublished memoir. “If I had my life to live over, what would I change? Practically nothing, except not to get polio — and that was not an act of choice.
“What am I proud of? Having the sense to choose a good husband — and the good luck to find the right man. Having children who made me proud. Hoping they have known how much I love them. Thinking in some small way the world is better because I have lived in it.”
She reflected on her long life in her memoir.
“I am an optimist, but I also realize that many things are not as good now as they were when I was young. The cities for example; the morals of the young,” she wrote. “The children being born to children and left to raise themselves. Drugs and guns. Wars and intolerance. It’s enough to make a girl go home and go to bed.
“But people, given a chance, are still fun to know and nice to be around, and I hope that sunshine and flowers and birds and jokes and crayons and chocolate will carry us through,” she wrote. “Wherever I go when I am not here, maybe I’ll still be able to watch what becomes of those I have loved — the best novel or movie I have ever enjoyed.”
Mrs. Bready was a longtime communicant of the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer, 5603 N. Charles St., where a memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. Thursday.
She is survived by two sons, Christopher H. Bready of Towson and Richard S. Bready of Philadelphia; and a grandson. Another son, Stephen Y. Bready, died in 1979.