Mary Lou Dendy passed away on Thursday October 29th, 2020, two days before her 93rd birthday. Born in Michigan in 1927, she moved with her family to South Carolina and spent much of her youth at the John de la Howe School, to which she was devoted later in life. She married Lewis “Preacher” Dendy in 1947 and they lived for seventy years in Highlands, North Carolina on a hillside in the house they built together. Mary Lou is survived by her three children, Robert Dendy of Highlands, Dorothy Dendy Smith of Black Mountain, and Barbara Dendy of Winston-Salem; her four grandchildren, Eric Smith and his spouse Jessa Decker-Smith of Denver, Jeffery Smith of Asheville, Natalie Dendy of Franklin, and Michelle Pendergrass and her spouse Travis of Franklin; and four great-grandchildren, Taylor, Eli, Amos, and Hazel. She was known for a while as “Grandma Lou,” but when Natalie was small she couldn’t say both words and instead said “Moo,” and from that point onward she was known to her grandchildren and great-grandchildren as Moo.
Mary Lou was a renowned confectioner and canner, sought out for her jams, jellies, and pickles. She and Lewis farmed their land to grow cucumbers, garlic, apples, beans, and many other fruits and vegetables, and she also gathered wild strawberries, blackberries, and raspberries to make into condiments. She was a quilter, making prize-winning quilts and keeping her family supplied with warmth in winters. She was a devoted member of the Satulah Club in Highlands, she was an avid hiker and adventurer, and along with her husband she was a collector of gems, rocks, and minerals, as well as antique glass and other curiosities that she excavated herself. She was a self-taught expert in the flora of the Highlands Plateau and knowledgeable about the history and cultures of the native peoples of southern Appalachia. Mary Lou gave countless hours at Fibber Magee’s Closet in Highlands, a non-profit resale store. A gardener to the end, she was tireless in tending the earth, and she was known for wrangling huge stones into borders and walls for her garden plots, and doing so well into her 90s. She was a patron and friend of many animals both wild and domestic; she adopted and cared for numerous cats, and faithfully fed the crows, foxes, jays, sparrows, raccoons, deer, and other animals that visited her back yard. She was an accomplished whistler. Fiercely independent and more than a little stubborn, Mary Lou lived out her values and her interests, giving herself and her time to the things that were important to her.
Mary Lou attended several Highlands churches over the years, including Shortoff Baptist church both early and late in life. A memorial service is planned for the summer of 2021. Memorials may be made to the John de la Howe School Foundation at 192 Gettys Road, McCormick South Carolina 29835.
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