Mary Louise Chapman of Berkeley, California passed away on October 2, 2020 from complications related to lung cancer. She was born to William and Mary Weller in Oriskany, New York, where she developed a life-long love for sports and sports competition. She graduated from Cortland College with a degree in physical education. In 1943, determined to support the US war effort, she joined the American Red Cross and served in the Clubmobile Program. Mary Louise was a “donut dolly” serving coffee and donuts to the troops, first in England and then across France. Near the end of the war, she was assigned to the XX Corps of General Patton’s 3rd army and followed the troops into Germany. Mary Louise was the only woman featured in a WQED Pittsburg documentary about artist Elizabeth Black, who drew portraits of soldiers, and of Mary Louise, during the war. The documentary, called “Finding Elizabeth’s Soldiers” can be found online. After the war, Mary Louise was inspired to stay with the American Red Cross and accepted a position in the Long Beach, California Chapter of the Red Cross Youth Program. Three years later she was hired as the Director of Youth Services at the San Francisco Chapter of the Red Cross. In the 38 years she worked for the Red Cross, Mary Lou was most proud of the programs she helped build in Leadership Development, including Service to Others, Health and Safety, and International Exchange. Mary Louise remained a personal mentor to many of the students and staff who participated in or supported those programs. She also became district director for the American Red Cross Overseas Association (ARCOA), which awarded her a Presidential Citation in 2015.
For over 36 years, Mary Louise shared her life with her husband, the late Dr. W. Maxwell “Max” Chapman. She and Max cooked for and entertained a wide circle of friends and traveled the world together. After his death in 1990, Mary Louise remained close with her stepchildren, Dr. John Chapman (now deceased) and Elizabeth Chapman Massman, as well as their children and grandchildren. When she passed, Mary Louise was actively following the lives of 7 grandchildren, 9 greatgrandchildren, and 4 great-great grandchildren! She retained her keen interest in sports and was still playing tennis and golf into her late 90’s when her knees finally had enough! On her last full day of life, she watched the Oakland A’s win once again, a team she has followed passionately for decades. Mary Louise was blessed with many friends from the American Red Cross, Chabot Tennis Club, and St. Clement’s Episcopal Church. Plans for a fitting memorial for Mary Louise are still pending, made more difficult, of course, by the coronavirus. In the meantime, donations in her honor can be made to the American Red Cross, Bay Area Chapter, Youth Programs in San Francisco (https://www.redcross.org/local/california/northern-california-coastal/volunteer/youth-volunteers.html).