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Dr. Mary Miller Mack




Dr. Mary Miller Mack passed away peacefully at the age of 97 on January 3, 2024, at her daughter’s home in Guilford, Connecticut, surrounded by family.  Mary’s graciousness and endless kindness, empathy, and tolerance were matched by a fearlessness and boundless interest in the world. A committed pediatrician, she dedicated her life to her patients, her community and her family.  If you knew Mary, you admired and loved her.   


Mary is survived by her daughter Kathryn Mack of Guilford, CT;  her son Stephen Mack (Rebecca Quintana) of Taos, NM; and her grandchild, Thea Anderson. She was predeceased by her husband, Dr. Gerhard Mack, who died on December 23, 2001.


Mary was born in Brooklyn on September 28, 1926 to Russell and Dorothy Miller. Growing up in the Depression as an only child of two teachers, she was surrounded by books and became an avid life-long reader.  Even in her nineties, Mary borrowed numerous books every week from the Guilford Library, read every page, and welcomed discussion of the topics.


As often as possible, Mary and her parents would visit the family farm in the Delaware River Valley, where Mary’s grandparents and maternal aunt lived.  They all loved planting and harvesting, singing and reading on the porch. On the morning of Mary’s wedding, they found her on a ladder in the orchard picking cherries.  


Mary was a person of great faith who was active in church throughout her life.  She experienced life’s hardships early in life, when her mother became increasingly weak with breast cancer and her grandfather lost his job at the silk mill.  She understood that life can be unfair and that each of us can only work hard, help others, never give up, follow our faith and appreciate small pleasures.   


Mary loved learning and excelled in school.  Inspired by her high school chemistry teacher, she decided to pursue medicine to help people like her mother.  In 1947, after only three years at Barnard College, she applied to The State University of New York College of Medicine in Brooklyn, NY.  The timing was lucky; the school had just decided to accept 10 women to ride in the ambulance because the male medical students declined to do so. Her Barnard advisor discouraged Mary, advising her that her time would be better spent going to the movies, but she persisted. Mary was accepted. 


Her four years of medical school were some of the most exciting years of her life.  Mary remembered them vividly, and throughout her life would recount amazing stories about being among the first classes of female medical students.  She tutored soldiers who had just returned from the war in chemistry during her lunch hours. As leader of her cadaver-study group, Mary would present their findings, and the men would celebrate by hoisting her on their shoulders.  When a curmudgeonly professor called her into his office to ask her why she was not scared of him, she told him, “My family is made of teachers. I  know you are here to help me learn. Why would I be afraid of you?”  If she experienced snubs or discrimination, she responded graciously, without anger or fear. 


After medical school, in 1951 Mary became the first female intern at St. Lukes Hospital in Bethlehem, PA, close to the family farm.  In 1952, she headed back to New York City for a residency at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center  where she conducted breast cancer research.  She also worked at Bellevue Hospital, where she had the opportunity to serve homeless, immigrant, and minority populations, as well as at Brigham and Women's Hospital. The hours were long, the needs of the patients were great, but she knew she had found her calling.  


In 1955, Mary moved to St. Paul, MN, where  she became the first female Chief  Medical Resident at Anker Hospital and University of Minnesota Hospital.  She met her husband during her residency when Mary, an avid tennis player, asked her fellow residents if any were interested in playing.  Gerhard Mack immediately raised his hand, despite limited tennis skills - and then rushed to the store to buy a racquet.  


The couple married in 1956 and opened a private practice together in Cheshire, CT, where they worked until 1986. She was Dr. Miller taking care of the children and he was Dr. Mack taking care of adults. Mary continued to practice medicine full-time after the birth of their two children, Stephen in 1957 and Kathryn in 1959. She was the sweetest, most perfect mother and grandmother anyone could have. Despite the long days and frequent house calls and trips to the Meriden Wallingford Hospital for night emergencies, Mary always made time for her children skating, playing tennis, gardening and reading together.


As a couple, Mary and Gerhard enjoyed plays, museums, opera and traveling the world with their many friends. 


After Mary’s husband died in 2001 of Parkinson Disease, Mary, at 72, moved to Guilford, CT, to live with her daughter, Kathy, Kathy’s then husband, Monte, and Thea. Mary thrived during the 23 years they lived together.  During these years, Mary was known as Mrs. Mack and she enjoyed new friends and old friends, book clubs, garden clubs, bridge clubs, building a house, wintering in Florida, and playing a key role in bringing up her grandchild. Thea was so inspired by her grandmother that she pursued the same professional path and will graduate from medical school next year. 


Mary’s family gives special thanks to Guilford Library for making her last 25 years so full of wonder and to the  Connecticut Hospice for providing comfort and care to Mary and her family in her final days, allowing her to die in peace and with dignity at her home surrounded by love.  


A memorial service will be scheduled to commemorate Mary’s life on a date in the Spring.  In lieu of flowers, donations in Mary’s name may be made to the Alzheimer’s Association.  

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The way I think of Mary is as a warm kind chatty fair woman who always was interested in you. How fortunate her young patients were to have her as a doctor. Her daughter and granddaughter (and son in law) are perfect examples of a fine family of support. I will fondly remember the twinkle in her eye and her feminine yet womanly stature. My own family and friends who knew her were lucky, indeed.

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