Mary Corliss

Corliss, Mary

d. Aug. 13, 2013

Mary Corliss, formerly known as Mary Gottlieb, passed away unexpectedly on Tuesday, Aug. 13, 2013. She had lived in Davis since 1969.

She grew up in Bronxville, N.Y., as the only child of Andreas and Mary Randel, both commercial artists. After graduating from Elmira College in upstate New York, she won a coveted Rotary International Fellowship to study literature in England at London University. Returning to New York, she worked at Time magazine, interviewing Frank Sinatra, Marian Anderson and other luminaries. She met her first husband, Leslie Gottlieb, while working for the New York Times.

Discovering a passion for teaching, Mary completed her M.A. in English education at New York University and taught college and high school English for eight years as the couple lived variously in Taos, N.M.; Ann Arbor, Mich.; and Corvallis, Ore. After Leslie completed his Ph.D. in genetics, he was offered a professor position at UC Davis, and they settled in the Willowbank area of Davis.

Concerned by the rampant pollution caused by agricultural field burning, she founded Ecology Action Davis, a local citizen activist group. In 1970, she served as chairman of the Yolo County Air Pollution Advisory Committee, before resigning in protest over what she felt was the committee’s biased conflicts of interest. Her public resignation spurred important reforms to pollution control.

She gave up teaching during the 1970s and 1980s to concentrate on her family, raising two sons. In the 1990s, she returned to teaching, becoming a passionate advocate for her students at the Davis School for Independent Study. She remarried to Bill Corliss, a fellow teacher, in 1998.

Retiring in 2000, she maintained a rich life of painting, travel, reading, gardening and socializing. Active until her final days, she was lovingly surrounded by close family and friends when she passed.

Her family will always remember her bright spirit, humor, kindness and passion for art and literature. She is survived by her husband Bill Corliss, and her sons, Michael Gottlieb of Davis and David Gottlieb of Los Angeles. From her second marriage, she is survived by daughter Heather and Steve Bohman of San Antonio; son James Corliss of Santa Barbara; and seven grandchildren: James Jr., Ashley, Alyssa, Arianna, DJ, Benjamin and Savannah.

A public memorial celebration of her life will take place Saturday, Sept. 7, at the Veterans’ Memorial Center, 203 E. 14th St. in Davis. Doors open at 1 p.m., and her life celebration begins promptly at 1:30 p.m.

Donations in Mary’s memory may be made to the Life Raft Group at liferaftgroup.org, which seeks a cure for GIST cancer.

Special to The Enterprise

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