Mary Walsh Wright, 82, a skilled horticulturist who shared her talents with her East Falls community, died of Alzheimer's disease Thursday, Dec. 8, at Spring Mill Manor in Lafayette Hill.
Mrs. Wright used her maiden name, Walsh, as her nickname because when she and her future husband, John, were dating, he told her the name suited her best. "I thought he'd outgrow it, but he never did," she told The Inquirer in 1991.
She and her husband, a lawyer, moved to East Falls in 1972. She created an elaborate garden at their home, which was on the East Falls Garden Tour she helped initiate. When the East Falls Historic House Tour was launched in 1985, the couple's home as well as their garden was open to visitors.
Mrs. Wright designed and planted a garden, with the help of a dozen volunteers, at the Schuylkill Falls Library in East Falls. She told an Inquirer reporter in 1989 that the garden would be "a lovely enclave" for the library, which she called "the linchpin of the neighborhood."
Mrs. Wright helped create the East Falls Quilt, a patchwork of scenes and events from the neighborhood. The quilt, completed in 1989, is on display at the National Penn Bank in East Falls.
An accomplished photographer, she took photos of local landmarks, including William Penn Charter School and Boathouse Row, and published a calendar to help fund the quilt project.
Mrs. Wright was a member of the Germantown Horticulture Society and the Pennsylvania Horticulture Society, sponsor of the annual Philadelphia Flower Show.
For 30 years, until 2004, she competed in house plant categories at the Flower Show and won more than 50 ribbons.
"Staging her plants was of utmost importance to her, and she often jockeyed for just the right placement at the show to capture light, shadow, and hopefully a judge's eye," said her son, John. She would camp out at the show with clippers, spray bottles, gloves, and books on horticulture Latin nomenclature so she could use the proper names of plants with other competitors, he said.
A native of Boston, Mrs. Wright earned an associate degree from Boston University in 1948. She then was an administrative assistant for Liberty Mutual Insurance in Boston and in Philadelphia for several years.
Mrs. Wright was proud to be a descendant of Christopher Wren, her son said. Wren was a British architect who built 61 churches after the Great Fire of London in 1666, including St. Paul's Cathedral.
She is survived by her son. Her husband died in 1991.
A memorial service will be at 11 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 15 at Vesper Boat Club, 10 Boathouse Row.