|Birth: ||Aug. 27, 1912|
|Death: ||Nov. 20, 2003|
Chico Enterprise-Record (Chico, CA) - Thursday, December 4, 2003
Mary "Moo" Ormsby passed peacefully away in her room at WindChime of Chico, November 20, 2003, surrounded in her last hours by loving friends, family and caregivers from WindChime and Butte Home Health Hospice. Born Myrtle Mary Moss, August 27, 1912, in Seattle, Washington, in her girlhood years she took dance classes and was encouraged to continue by the ballerina Anna Pavlova.
Later, Moo studied acting at Seattle's The Cornish School of Drama, Music, and Dance, graduating in 1932 with a degree in Acting. Both as a student and, later, a repertory actress with The Cornish Players, playing both in Seattle and touring the West, she appeared in over 40 plays, including works by Chekhov, Shaw, Maugham, Moliere, Dickens (his only play), and Galsworthy. She later achieved considerable repute as a puppeteer and "manipulator" of Dorothy in the Ellen Van Volkenberg marionette production of "The Wizard of Oz" which toured across America in the 1930's.
In the late 1930s, she worked in theater in New York City. Her stories of struggling to support herself in New York during the Depression opened the past to her friends and relatives who enjoyed the tales she told of those early years. She lived for a time in an apartment next to one occupied by Henry Fonda and Jimmy Stewart, two actors she found not very talented and "not that interesting." Her beauty and poise also evoked admiration from the New York mobster, who offered to set her up in an apartment and give her credit at all the best department stores and shops if she would reserve Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays just for him. Moo politely declined.
Back in Washington, she met her future husband, Burke Ormsby, when they both applied for the job of station manager at a Seattle radio station. He got the job; she got him. Together they co-authored a play and participated in many theatrical productions of the Tacoma Little Theater in the 1940's. With Burke, she moved about the West, helping run radio stations, even sitting high in the booth above baseball games calling the plays and players. She never lost her love of sports, keeping track of the 'Niners and Giants. She herself had a bent finger "earned" on second base from an errant ball during a company softball game.
When Burke died in 1975, Moo left Lemon Grove, California, and moved to Chico to be near her friend and Burke's sister, "Red" and her husband Hutch, "Old Hutch," (William Henry Hutchinson, historian of the West at Chico State). A few years ago, her nephew, Warren Hutchinson, honored her by driving her to the Golden Anniversary celebration of the Silver Dollar Fair which his father, "Old Hutch," had named "Silver Dollar."
In the 1970's and 1980's, Moo continued her radio work in Chico, reading newspapers over the air for the blind (her listeners always insisted she include both the comics and the obituaries), a service for which she was recognized by a silver goblet, inscribed "Radio Reading Service, Mary Ormsby, 1984." She never drove a car, but got about by walking to the library, downtown, around north Chico, and later by buses, and Clipper. When that become too difficult, friends drove her weekly to the Butte County Library (she often read five or six books, mostly mysteries, a week), to the market and to the doctor, dentist and druggist. They often stopped on the way home for a chocolate milkshake or a chili relleno.
On her TV stand, photos of friends and kin share space with mementos from the three cruises at sea she enjoyed, trips that took her around South America and to the United Kingdom and beyond. She took her martinis dry, enjoyed crab feasts in season, and liked a glass of wine before dinner, as her doctor prescribed "for appetite."
During the last twenty-five of her ninety-one years, she made a crowd of loving friends - from neighbors at the William Tell apartments to doctors to librarians to staff at WindChime - who relished her stories, wit, strong will, self-reliance, good cheer, and gracious thankfulness for help when she needed it.
At her request, her ashes will be scattered off the bluffs at Mendocino. She is survived by two nephews, Warren Hutchinson in Chico and Jamie Hutchinson in Massachusetts; a grandniece Judi Taug in Oregon; numerous other grand nieces and nephews; and her "virtual" nephews and nieces locally, JoEllen Hall, Sheryl and John Russell, and David and Emily Wilson.
Cremated, Ashes scattered.
Specifically: At her request, her ashes will be scattered off the bluffs at Mendocino.
Created by: J
Record added: Sep 08, 2012
Find A Grave Memorial# 96730957