Mary Louise Lyon Strong (Mary Lou), a 58-year resident of Monmouth County and longtime historic preservation activist and community volunteer, died on Tuesday, August 29 at age 86. Mary Lou was born on November 20, 1930 in Newton, Massachusetts, the daughter of Dorothy Miller Lyon and Stanley H. Lyon. Mary Lou graduated from Wellesley College as an art history major in 1952.
She and her husband, George Hotham Strong, moved to Little Silver, and then Locust in 1956, where they raised their three children. Together, they reconstructed an 18th century house and filled it with antiques. They were married for 63 years before his death in 2014. For the past three years, Mary Lou has lived at Newbridge-on-the-Charles in Dedham, Massachusetts.
Mary Lou was an extraordinary woman with a kind and adventurous spirit who devoted her life to her family and causes that she cared for deeply. She was a leader in the local community who recognized the beauty and significance of local landmarks, and rallied support for historic preservation. She was a people person, a faithful and loving friend to many, a person with an open mind who always put others first and made you feel like you were the center of the universe.
Mary Lou always showed kindness, warmth and trust in her eyes. She cherished time with family and friends. Spending time with Mary Lou always left you feeling inspired and fulfilled by her generous spirit. She loved late night conversations over a glass of wine.
She had numerous talents including athleticism, artistic ability, a curious mind, and a quick wit. The hand drawn cartoons that she made for family members at Christmas time embody the character with which she led her life. She had strongly held values regarding family, friendship, and community. Above all, Mary Lou was always thoughtful, kind, and considerate. Her inspiration to cherish the moment, live, laugh, love and stay active touched family and friends, and will for a lifetime.
Mary Lou was actively involved in and served as a strong and effective leader in numerous community organizations, including the Monmouth County Historical Association (president, vice president, secretary and chair of the Development and Long Range Planning committees); the Middletown Landmarks Commission (chairperson; the Rumson Country Day School (trustee); All Saints’ Memorial Church (vestry); the Middletown Township Planning Board; the Monmouth County Historical Commission; and Preservation New Jersey. Mary Lou had a passion for competitive tennis and paddle tennis. She is credited with saving many historic landmarks throughout New Jersey.
Mary Lou is survived by her brother, Mark B. Lyon (and wife Dee) of Thousand Oaks, California; three children, Cynthia Strong Hibbard (and husband Tod) of Cambridge, Massachusettts, Dexter Strong (and wife Maureen) of Providence, Rhode Island, and Sarah Strong Bornstein (and husband Scott) of Danvers, Massachusetts; and six grandchildren, Kate Hibbard (and husband Pieter), Liz Strong (and husband James), James Strong, Sarah Strong, Alyssa Bornstein and Cameron Bornstein.
A funeral service will be held at 2 p.m. on Saturday, September 9 at All Saints’ Memorial Church, Navesink. Memorial donations may be made in her name to the Alzheimer’s Association or to the Monmouth County Historical Association. Thompson Memorial Home, Red Bank, is in charge of arrangements.
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