Mary Emily Baggott, age 96, formerly of Mt. Vernon, passed away on Sunday, June 15, 2014, at Lutheran Hillside Village in Peoria.
Born March 16, 1918, in LaSalle, Mary was the older daughter of Edmund Joseph Burke, M.D., and Anna Christianson Burke.
Preceded in death by husband, John Baggott and sister, Barbara Burke Genster, Mary is survived by three children, Joseph Baggott (Marilyn) of Birmingham, Ala., Ellen Naylor (Denis) of Wilmette and Betsy Dubicki (David) of Peoria. She is also survived by seven grandchildren, Emily Naylor Gary (Warren), Katherine Baggott Rogers (Adam), Martha Dubicki Jackson (Trent), John Dubicki, Rebecca Baggott, Margaret Baggott and Madeleine Naylor; and three great-grandchildren, Jonathan Rogers and Nathan and Owen Gary.
Remarkable for her era, Mary graduated from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana with a BA degree in English. She pledged the Kappa Alpha Theta sorority at U of I and was a 75-year-plus Theta member. After college graduation, she worked with commodity brokers in Chicago and other businesses in southern Illinois where she met her future husband, John Wayne Baggott (also a University of Illinois graduate with a degree in engineering). They were married just before the outbreak of World War II. Shortly thereafter, John was commissioned as a U.S. Navy officer and served in the South Pacific Theater; Mary worked on the home front in Chicago. In their ensuing years together, Mary followed John’s career within the paint/industrial coatings industry at Sherwin-Williams, American Marietta, Pittsburg Plate and Glass (PPG), Dow Chemical and finally at Vanex Inc., a paint manufacturing company in Mt. Vernon that John owned and operated until shortly before his death on Oct. 6, 1999.
Together, Mary and John lived in many places—Akron, Ohio; Chicago; Wheaton; Pittsburgh; and Los Angeles—finally settling in Mt. Vernon, where John grew Vanex into a successful business, which he sold in 1998. (Vanex, serendipitously, is now a PPG subsidiary.) During her marriage, Mary devoted her time and energies to supporting John in his career, raising children (instilling a love of reading in them) and volunteering for many organizations (tutoring young children in reading was her favorite). She also pursued her passions for classic literature, politics, history and home décor. She decorated all of the family residences with great taste and style, including their last home, 1812 Richview Road in Mt. Vernon, which is now known as Sidwell Friends B&B.