Obituary: Mary Noonan

Beloved mother, grandmother, longtime San Dimas librarian

Mary Noonan, 88, beloved mother and grandmother, died May 25 at her home in Palm Desert, after a brief illness. At her side were her daughter, Theresa, and her son-in-law, Art, who had cared for her since her retirement from the San Dimas branch of the Los Angeles County Public Library.

Mary Sumner James was born in Los Angeles on March 27, 1932 to Charles Sumner and Umbra James. Raised in Claremont, she graduated from the original Claremont High School and attended Pomona College, graduating with a degree in history.

After college, she lived in San Francisco, Berkeley, Cincinnati, and Bloomington, Indiana, before arriving in San Luis Obispo, where she had two children before the sixties had drawn to a close.

In 1975, with the children now of school age, she returned to Claremont, and began working in the library system. Balancing work and motherhood, she completed coursework necessary to become a librarian, working at the El Monte and Montebello branches before arriving at San Dimas, from where she retired as senior librarian in charge after more than 30 years of service.

As a grandmother, she saw her grandchildren grow into young adults, taking her grandson to varsity football games and her granddaughter to ballet lessons. An avid boxing enthusiast, she was known by many champion boxers who kept in contact with her  throughout her golden years. 

Her kindness and positivity were a beacon to others; she always took the most forgiving view of any situation, and had a good word for everybody. Despite health setbacks in her later years, she retained this optimism, and its absence from this world is a loss indeed.

Possessed of quick wit and a bright, infectious laugh, she could brighten up any room. No cup was ever half empty for her, and she shared this philosophy wherever she could. She loved animals all her life, offering a loving home and a brimming plate to dozens of cats and dogs over the years.

In 2018, she moved to Palm Springs. She loved desert living, with its plants and trees a reminder of the many roses and houseplants she’d enjoyed tending to over the years. She also enjoyed parties there in season.

She once remarked, “The last 25 years of my life have been filled with the joy of watching my grandchildren become great.” She remained in the care of Theresa and Art until she died, surrounded by the family who knew her best.

She is survived by her brother, Jerry James; son, John; daughter, Theresa; and four grandchildren, Cheyanne, Dakota, Roman and Moses.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to P.O. Box 2235, Palm Desert, CA 92260, for a  meditation bench and rose garden to be planted in her honor. 




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