Mary E. Witherite Peace, rights activist

July 18, 1992

A memorial service for Mary Ellen Witherite, who was honored last month by the Methodists' Baltimore Conference for her work on behalf of peace, will be held at 2 p.m. today at Cape St. Claire United Methodist Church, 855 Chestnut Tree Drive in Cape St. Claire.

Mrs. Witherite, 87, died July 2 of respiratory failure at the Anne Arundel Medical Center in Annapolis. She had lived in Cape St. Claire since 1955.

She was a member of the American Civil Liberties Union, Religious Coalition for Abortion Rights, Capital Area Division of the United Nations Association, Amnesty International and Commission on Race and Religion of the Baltimore Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. Her travel to Africa, South America and Europe included a 1988 peace mission to the Soviet Union.

She received the annual Swords into Plowshares Award of the Baltimore Conference last month at the same time that it was given posthumously to her husband, Harold C. Witherite. He died Dec. 23.

Mrs. Witherite often participated in local and national demonstrations for human rights, women's issues and racial harmony. The former Mary Ellen McPherson was born in Fredericksburg, Va. She grew up in Washington and Ware Neck, Va.

A 1928 graduate of Central High School in Washington, she worked for government agencies and studied art at Wilson Normal School and George Washington University.

She worked briefly as a commercial artist in Washington and in the early 1950s did artwork for a dance studio in Baltimore, where she lived before moving to the Annapolis area. Survivors include a son, Harold C. Witherite Jr. of Aroma, Calif.; three daughters, Ellen R. Witherite of Charleston, W.Va., Jane Witherite Barss of Mayo and Lou V. Witherite of Boston, and six grandchildren.

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