RODGERS, Mary J. (Norwood)
Mary Joyce Norwood Rodgers died of cancer at age 85 on Sunday, March 21, 2010. She was born at home on December 16, 1924 in Davidson in southwestern Oklahoma, a few miles north of the Red River, and grew up in an Oklahoma pioneer family during the Depression and Dust Bowl. Her father Joseph Guy Norwood and her mother Pearl Franklin Norwood both moved from Arkansas to Davidson in their youth, and while raising their two children, Guy and Mary Joyce, they farmed and ran a dry goods store. Mary Joyce graduated from high school at age 16, and attended Oklahoma College for Women in Chickasha for two years. She arrived in Norman in 1942 and completed college at OU. Following graduation from OU with a degree in journalism, she worked for a short time for the newspaper in Altus and the family store in Davidson, before she returned to Norman (for good) for a staff position at Wesley Foundation, the growing Methodist student center in Norman. She eventually served as interim director for Wesley Foundation, and spent many years on its board of directors. While a student at OU, Mary Joyce met Lee Rodgers at Wesley Foundation. After he returned from the service in WWII, their romance began, and continued with passion, devotion, and commitment for the rest of their lives. They married in 1948 at McFarlin Methodist Church, and would have celebrated their 62nd anniversary on April 9th of this year. While Lee was developing his city planning career in Norman and at OU, Mary Joyce was busy epitomizing the role of homemaker, community and church volunteer, and mother to four growing children, Joe Lee, Mary Ellen, Rob, and Larry. During those years, Mary Joyce and Lee acquired a pecan grove on the corner of Boyd and Pickard. For 46 years Merrywood has been the family home and site for countless gatherings of friends and family. Once her children graduated from high school, Mary Joyce returned to school and earned her Masters of Social Work at OU in 1981. She worked as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker at the Child Study Center at the OUHSC. Following retirement in 1997, she continued serving others through volunteer work at Center for Children and Families Inc., Meals on Wheels, and in many other capacities around Norman. Mary Joyce's birth in 1924, by appropriate happenstance, occurred during the same week that McFarlin opened its doors. She first attended McFarlin in 1940, and spent the rest of her life dedicated to the growth of McFarlin, and to sharing her Christian and Methodist values. She served in dozens of roles at McFarlin, including Sunday School teacher, editor of the church paper, and administrative board member. She wrote three histories of McFarlin, for the 50th, 75th, and 85th anniversaries of the church, and has served for many years as the church archivist and historian. Her passion for serving others was realized through her love for and devotion to her family, church, community, and state; through her professions as a writer and social worker; through her delightful and expansive talent for cooking fine food, for anyone and everyone; through her passion for Democratic politics; through her commitment to visiting elderly, sick, and needy people in Norman; and through her telegraphic memory for the details of the lives of her friends and family. There are hundreds of Norman residents (many who may be reading this obituary) whose homes, neighborhoods, families, and ancestry Mary Joyce could describe through fascinating stories and historical detail. Mary Joyce Rodgers led a Christ-centered life based on Methodist principles of sharing, caring, outreach, and good works. She was preceded in death by her parents, her brother Guy, and her son Rob. She is survived by her husband Lee; her children and their spouses, Joe Lee Rodgers and Jacci of Norman; Mary Ellen Bundren and Clark of Tulsa; Larry Rodgers and Susan of Corvallis, OR; and eight grandchildren, Rachel and Naomi of Norman; Johnathan Bundren and spouse Lauren of Tulsa; Michelle Bundren of Kansas City; Kara Bundren of Ft. Worth; and Samuel, Margaret, and Benjamin Rodgers of Corvallis OR. A memorial service will be held at McFarlin on Thursday, March 25 at 2:00 PM, followed by a reception in the atrium. A visitation with the family will occur on Wednesday, March 24 from 7-9 PM at Havenbrook funeral home. Memorial contributions can be sent to McFarlin United Methodist Church to the Rodgers Memorial Fund.