July 31, 1935 – March 23, 2021
Mary Winder, 85, died peacefully at the Terraces of Boise on Tuesday the 23rd of March with her youngest daughter by her side. Her death was due to weight loss caused by Mixed Dementia (Alzheimer’s and Vascular). At the prime of her life, as an independent thinker, and a newfound feminist, she pursued her dreams and blazed a trail for women in the male dominated field of City Planning.
Mary Colleen Stuart Winder was born in Flint, Michigan in the midst of the Great Depression. Her mother retired from teaching high school English to raise her, and her father supported the family by working in construction, which required them to move often. After living in various towns in Michigan, Indiana, Florida and Texas, they settled long enough for her to completely attend, and graduate from, Redford High School in Detroit.
Following commencement, she attended the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor where she met and married Robert Winder. After he received his bachelor’s degree they moved to Princeton, NJ so that he could pursue a doctoral degree in Mathematics. Mary gave birth to their two daughters there and spent eight years raising them.
Like Betty Friedan explained in The Feminine Mystique at the time, Mary felt unfulfilled as a housewife and mother. So, she returned to college, but this time she studied what she wanted to study rather than what her father permitted her to study. She chose Architecture at the University of Pennsylvania. It would have been more convenient, especially since she had young children, to attend Princeton University, but it didn’t admit women at the time. After earning a Bachelor of Arts degree she entered the graduate program and became a Master of City Planning.
She started her career at Hunterdon County in New Jersey where she broke her first glass ceiling which was reported in the local newspaper as “Woman Hired by Planning Board”. That was followed by positions as Senior then Principal Planner at the NJ Department of Community Affairs. She also provided planning expertise at two different law firms. The highlight of her career was when she worked as an Independent Consultant across the state of New Jersey where she created planning documents and testified as an expert witness in over fifty municipalities. Her achievements earned her the Distinguished Professional Service Award of the NJ Chapter of the American Planning Association.
After a while the economy slowed down which impacted her business. So, she took a position at the Sarasota County Planning Department in Florida supervising the planning section. Also, after twenty years of marriage to Robert they divorced, and she later met William (Bill) Dandreaux, who moved to Florida with her. She retired after ten years and enjoyed relandscaping her yard and delving into genealogy where she discovered many of her, and Bill’s, ancestors.Having spent most of her life in NJ, though, she longed for the excitement of NYC and the company of old friends. So, they travelled between NJ and Florida for several years before settling back in NJ. After Bill, her companion of 27 years, died in 2015, Mary moved to Idaho to be closer to family.
She is survived by her daughters Kay (Ralph) Jagelavicius of Texas and Amy Winder (Brad VanRoosendaal) of Idaho; five grandchildren Gwen (Mike), Laura (Kevin), Melissa (Terry), Samantha (Matthew) and Thomas (Helen); five great-grandchildren and two cats: Jules & Julie. Her cremains will be interred at the Princeton Abbey & Cemetery in Princeton, NJ less than a mile from the beloved home that she lived in with her daughters and their father.
Amy, your mother was an amazing woman. Our most sincere condolences. P & G Paradis.
Thanks Pete & Gail!
What lovely testimony for a unique and accomplished woman. I never realized how accomplished. And she had to go to UPenn because women weren’t accepted at Princeton. Did not know that!! I’m glad I got to meet her once upon a time.
Thanks, Kathy. She had a great time staying at your house and visiting Boston!