Mary Davenport Benarroch | Passages

Mary Davenport Benarroch

Lifelong summer resident Mary Stuart Davenport Benarroch died December 6 of advanced myotonic muscular dystrophy. She was 74. The eldest daughter of Demorest and Winifred (Bailey) Davenport, Mary grew up in Santa Barbara, where her father was a marine biologist on the faculty of the University of California and her mother was a welcoming homemaker, active community volunteer, and gifted Spanish dancer.

Mary graduated from Santa Barbara High School and then from the University of California at Berkeley in 1966, where she was one of the 800 students arrested in the 1964 sit-in of the Free Speech Movement. While getting a master’s degree in English at San Francisco State, she joined demonstrations against the Vietnam War.

She took a legendary trip to Mexico and spent a year on a kibbutz in Israel.

In San Francisco, Mary married Charles Benarroch, who suffered an early death from cancer. Moving to Los Angeles, she became design manager at Eva Gabor. She acted as Big Sister to a young Vietnamese refugee, Ngan (Kim) Doan, who went on to get a PhD. She enjoyed theater and the arts and found a special friend in Shelly Cohen, who helped her live a full life as her muscular dystrophy progressed.

Throughout her life, Mary enjoyed spending Orcas summers in Deer Harbor at Bailey Point, where her grandfather and grandmother, Curtis and Mary Stuart Bailey, had two cottages. The vacations were spent with their growing extended family, including cousins Susan, Kit, and Laurie Hughes, for whom she and her sister, Lynn, wrote and directed skits and musicals to perform for the adults.

Christmas and the Fourth of July were often celebrated in Eastsound at the Random Acres Farm of her great uncle and aunt Russell and Gretchen Hawkins. There the ranks swelled to include other cousins: Tim and Dave Ransom, Isabelle and Gretchen Bailey – and, later, her niece, Heather, and nephew, Jed.

In her final years, Mary was faithfully looked after in Los Angeles by Odette and Abner Galino, who took her shopping and to the beach, built her a Facebook page, and lovingly brought her into the fold of their large family.

Mary was pre-deceased by her sister, Lynn Curtis Davenport Simmonds, in 2014. She is survived by her niece, Heather Simmonds, nephew, Jed Simmonds (Joan), and grandnephew, Emerson; by her seven cousins and their offspring; and by a wealth of in-laws and friends.

A commemoration of Mary’s life will be celebrated at Bailey Point next summer. Memories may be shared through Tim Ransom: