Mary Rose Tully, our friend, colleague, and comrade-in-arms in defense of mothers and babies everywhere, passed away at 3:30 AM, January 20, 2010 on her 42nd wedding anniversary after five months of nearly constant suffering with pancreatic cancer, surrounded by her husband Doug, son Chris and his wife Tania, her mother Rose Weber, and many of her siblings. Mary Rose received her MPH from our department, was of the very first Lactation Consultants certified in the US. She served as Director of Lactation Services at UNC Hospitals, Adjunct Associate Professor, Department of Maternal and Child Health, and Co-founder of the Carolina Global Breastfeeding Institute, Gillings School of Global Public Health.
She made us promise – twice – that anything we do to memorialize her would be a continuing celebration of life. And we will be making plans and decisions with her ongoing input, as Dr. Alison Stuebe suggested, by asking ourselves, “WWMRD” – “What would Mary Rose do?” So smile and sing and remember the good times and the good works – her suffering is over.
We remember her as the one with the constant smile and unfailing energy who prioritized the mothers and babies, and saw no reason that we could not change the world today. She received much personal reward from her work, and wide recognition, with at least two prestigious awards: the first Human Milk Banking Association of North America life-time achievement award, and the Wake County Volunteer Award/ North Carolina Volunteer Award, which recognized her as one of the top volunteers in her home county. She always did more and expected more of herself than of others. She was so willing to share the honorifics. The following is a quote from her comments at the award ceremony is typical of her: “I am truly privileged to live in a state that values contributions to maternal and child health so highly. The work I have done through the years has been done with many others on a team or committee. What I have accomplished has only been possible through collaboration with other dedicated volunteers and my very supportive family.”
Mary Rose’s family set up two funds in her memory:
- A Mary Rose Tully Memorial Fund to benefit her seven-year-old granddaughter Anika and for un-paid medical bills. Checks may be sent to the Mary Rose Tully Memorial Fund, c/o Karen Britt Peeler, Attorney at Law, P.O. Box 12154, Raleigh, NC 27605.
- The Mary Rose Tully Training Initiative at the Global Breastfeeding Institute