Index of Memorial Resolutions and Biographical Sketches

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Mary Gray Crockett was born on June 11, 1922, in Louisville, Kentucky. She graduated from Westminster College and went on to earn a Master’s degree in Nursing from Yale University. After raising four daughters and working as a psychiatric nurse in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Mary moved to California with her family and subsequently pursued and was awarded a Doctor of Science in Nursing (D.N.S.) degree from the University of California San Francisco.

Mary later came to Texas, where she became a tenured faculty member at The University of Texas at Austin School of Nursing. She continued her career in psychiatric mental health nursing until her retirement. While at The University of Texas at Austin, she became the editor of the professional journal Issues in Mental Health Nursing in 1986, succeeding Phyllis Stern. According to the current editor, Sandra Thomas, Ph.D., R.N., Phyllis welcomed Mary to her new duties in an editorial in the second issue of Volume 8, describing her as “a nurse scientist who is enormously curious” and a clinician who “helped families learn how to get through the day and the night with confused, sometimes frightened, hard-to-reach, and often ungovernable relatives.” Mary’s inaugural editorial in Issue 3, 1986, stated,

We welcome your manuscripts as an avid gardener would welcome packages of carefully developed new seeds, roots, and bulbs. We shall try to propagate and publish as many of your theories, research findings, and treatment strategies as possible, both for the use of your colleagues in their work and for the benefits to our shared client population.

This editorial alludes to her love of flower gardening. She was also very fond of classical music and enjoyed playing the piano.

Mary served as editor of Issues in Mental Health Nursing until 1990. Sandra Thomas reflected that Mary was stepping down as editor because she had just remarried and wanted to travel the world with her new husband, Wally. Sandra met with Mary on her seventy-fifth birthday, and Mary gave Sandra some excellent advice about maintaining her own program of scholarship and not letting the duties as editor hinder her research productivity. Mary also shared with Sandra her personal stress-reduction strategy—swimming in her indoor pool. Sandra flew home and told her husband that, as a journal editor, she needed to have an indoor pool—and in 1998, they added one to their home. Sandra still thinks about Mary at night, when she washes away the cares of the day in the warm water of the pool.

During her tenure at The University of Texas at Austin, Mary spent a semester as a visiting professor at a medical school in Taipei, Taiwan. Upon returning, she published the findings from a study she had conducted while there and continued to have a sustained professional relationship with many of the nurses she met during that semester.

Many students in psychiatric nursing at The University of Texas at Austin remember Mary as an intelligent, sweet, understanding, yet firm professor who often treated them to coffee and cookies in the late afternoon as they met the challenges of providing mental health services as nurses in Texas. Some of us can still see her pushing her utility cart from her office to the classroom and back, serving her students, as she served all those she met, with respect and dignity. She was well known for her emphasis on the importance of exercise and proper nutrition and was particularly passionate about the suffering of patients with mental illness and their families.

Mary died at the age of ninety on November 19, 2012, at Radford Green Health Care and Rehabilitation in Lincolnshire, Illinois. She was survived by a sister, Jean Sibley, of New Hampshire and four daughters, Emily Berndt and husband, Thomas, of West Lafayette, Indiana; Elizabeth Swanson of Bozeman, Montana, and husband, Jerry Buckley; Mary Oler and husband, David, of Riverwoods, Illinois; and Sarah Swanson and Al Heinrich of Austin, Texas. She is also survived by ten grandchildren, William Berndt, Edward Berndt, Brian Berndt, Eric Berndt, Julie Carron, Ann Oler, Jesse Oler, Holly Heinrich, Dan Heinrich, and Catherine Heinrich, and one great-grandchild, Kiran Berndt.


William Powers Jr., President
The University of Texas at Austin


Sue Alexander Greninger, Secretary
The General Faculty

This memorial resolution was prepared by a special committee consisting of Professors D. Lynn Rew (chair), Jan T. Fox, and Marilyn Pattillo.