Mary Magdalene Leary Bouldin was peacefully called to the Heavenly skies while resting on Monday, September 7th, 2020 in the comfort of her home surrounded by family. Born in Norfolk, VA on May 17th, 1931, she was the youngest daughter of the late Wallace and Maggie (Burnham) Leary. In addition to her parents, she is preceded in death by her siblings: Harry Bernard Leary, Wallace (Larry) Leary, Naomi Moore, and Elizabeth Cowell.
Mary’s childhood aspirations included attending college, being a majorette, and becoming a teacher, and she was able to achieve them all. She graduated from the Booker T. Washington High School before continuing her higher education at Saint Paul’s Polytechnic Institute in Lawrenceville, Virginia, where she earned her Bachelors of Science in Education. Mary was a strong advocate of education for herself, her family and her community, and dedicated a 30+ year career as an elementary school teacher for Norfolk Public Schools, where she left a positive mark on all her students. She spent her entire life in the Berkley section of Norfolk, and was a staple member of the community academically, as well as personally.
With her faith close to her heart, Mary was a lifelong member of the First Trinity AME Church from childhood until her death. As an adult she shared her love of music and joined the choir, and her favorite song was “Take Me to the King.” Her involvement with the wellness of her community extended beyond her career and church activities, as she was a member of the Portsmouth Chapter of Les Gemmes, Inc. for over 50 years, until her sickness, as well as the National Sorority of Phi Delta Kappa, Inc. Alpha Chi Chapter of Portsmouth, VA; with both organizations holding education and youth mentorship as foundational pillars.
In addition to Mary’s commitment to her neighborhood, she also enjoyed traveling with her family. She spent her formative summers anywhere from North Carolina to New York. However, she always said Ahoskie held a special place in her heart. As an adult, her favorite pastime was getting dolled up and visiting casinos and resorts. She has been to cities far and wide to pull the lever of a slot machine and hear those bells, but most memorably, she loved when her family joined her. With a razor-sharp memory and passion for fashion, Mary “The Diva,” was quite the fan of The Real Housewives franchise, and was always content watching those ladies, or another favorite, The Godfather, all day long with a slice of cake and orange soda. However, if something was awry, she’d say, “Dis ain’t hittin’ on nothin,” and everyone knew something wasn’t right.
Mary’s sweet tooth was a warm presence, along with her sassy wit and humor. She was a devoted wife to her loving Navy man, Roosevelt Bouldin Sr., for 55 years and she cared for him for more than 10 years through his battle with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease until his passing on August 12, 2010. Together they leave five children to continue their legacy; Kevindene Nightengale (Earl), Roosevelt “The Rose” Bouldin Jr., Nadine Thacker, LaValle “Tracey” Donato (Remick), and Lyndell Bouldin (Barbara); fourteen grandchildren Dr. Tiffany Nightengale , T’Shanda “Tee Tee” Thacker, Richard Nightengale II (Gwendolyn), Brandi Chew (Clayton), Tamara “Tammy” Cherry (Brandon), Magdalyn “Maggie” Akins (Karl), Roosevelt Bouldin III, Briana Bouldin, Bryce Bouldin, Yamani “Mani” Thacker, Deidra Hughes, Lynnette Vargas (John), Matthew Schneider, Kimberly Schneider and sixteen great-grandchildren, as well as her devoted Sister-in-law Rev. Dr. Lessie Leary. “Granny,” as she is affectionately known to most, loved hard and was a matriarchal rock to our family. She leaves a large village of nieces, nephews, cousins, and longtime friends to continue the spread of her memories. Mary “The Diva” herself had the opportunity to partake in a beautiful legacy video in 2018, in which she shared her life story, and the last wish she wanted her for her family and loved ones:
“After I’m gone, I would like for my family to continue being a family; don’t split up. I would like the education to continue, or to get nice jobs, and try to avoid trouble. Remain loving and close.”