Mary Jo McCalley, née Beam, 63, of Atlanta, Ga., formerly of Morehead City, passed away Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2020, after a well-fought battle against cancer.
Her service is Saturday in Atlanta, Ga.
Mary Jo was born in 1957 in Morehead City. She graduated from Duke University in 1979 with a B.A. in finance. She moved to Atlanta, Ga., to join C&S Bank, where she worked as a commercial loan officer. In 1985, she married Gray. His Foreign Service career led them overseas, first to Belfast and then London. There, Mary Jo worked at the U.S. Embassy, was a frequent guest at Winfield House and even danced at a reception in Buckingham Palace. They next moved to Bonn, where Mary Jo worked as the bookkeeper for the ambassador’s residence, and daughter Catherine was born. Shortly thereafter, they returned stateside to Washington, D.C., thence to Atlanta, where daughter Lizzie was born and Gray began a career with Coca-Cola. They again found their way back overseas – to Oslo, Duesseldorf and London for a second time. During those years abroad, Mary Jo made dear friends and was able to travel the world with Gray and the girls.
In 2002, Mary Jo and her family returned to Atlanta or, more correctly, to Vinings, where she quickly threw down roots. She was active in the Vinings Village Woman’s Club and served as treasurer for more than 10 years. She was also involved with the Ivy Garden Club and her daughters’ school activities. Regularly walking her two dogs, Rascal and Chewy, she became a bit of a fixture in the Vinings community.
Mary Jo made friends readily and nurtured those friendships across time and distance. Her spades card group comprised some of her closest friends, meeting once a month to play cards and visit. Others were found in book club, bridge groups and amongst dog lovers. As a Dukie (notably missing here is the adjective “obnoxious”), she was a keen basketball fan. She also enjoyed watching Auburn football and Cam Newton.
She was most proud of her daughters – Catherine, a nurse practitioner, and Lizzie, a teacher – both givers to others. The fruit did not fall far from the tree. And, nicknamed ‘Emi,’ she felt especially blessed by her two grandchildren.
Despite her cancer diagnosis, Mary Jo persevered with her loving and energetic spirit, still spending quality time with friends and family. She was able to travel back to Morehead City for a week at the beach, enjoy precious moments with her new granddaughter Jane and celebrate grandson Reid’s second birthday.
Recent comments from two friends summarize Mary Jo well: “She was the smartest woman I ever met.”
“She was an easy friend.”
Though too short, hers was a life well lived. She remains an inspiration to us all.
She is survived by her husband, Gray; daughters, Catherine Shaw and husband Andrew and Elizabeth White and husband Raymond; grandson, Reid; granddaughter, Jane; brother, Joe C. Beam Jr. and wife Tracy; and niece, Sarah.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Northside United Methodist Church, the Duke Cancer Institute online at cancer.duke.edu, the Vinings Village Woman’s Club or the Vinings Public Library.
“Forgive my grief for one removed, Thy creature whom I found so fair,” Tennyson
“Sometimes when [life] scowls most spitefully, she is preparing her most dazzling gifts,” Churchill
Arrangements are by H.M. Patterson and Son.