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Mary Eugenia Houston, 62, preacher and speech pathologist

She was a leader of numerous service organizations.

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MARY EUGENIA Houston was all about taking care of others.

Whether it was her own family, her church family, or the students she helped as a speech therapist, Mary was all about service.

And she had a number of talents to help her do her work. The wife of a preacher, she became a preacher herself, duly licensed by her denomination. As a speech pathologist, she worked with students in both the Philadelphia and Chester-Upland school districts.

She held leadership positions in numerous service organizations, winning many honors, but she always had time for her family, insisting they have dinner together every night, and seeing to it that her children's schools got everything they needed.

"Regardless of the many activities that she was involved in, her first priority was always to her husband and her family," her family said. "Mary had a brilliant sense of humor, and often stated that she was happiest when she was surrounded by her family, laughing and sharing in the good times."

Mary Eugenia Houston died Tuesday after a prolonged illness. She was 62 and lived in Trevose.

"Through her work in the community, Mary was well known for her enthusiasm, optimism, graciousness and loving spirit," her family said. "She never met a challenge or person she couldn't win over with her disarming smile."

Mary was born in Portsmouth, Va., to Mary Coralee Brown Robertson and Waymon Brown. The family moved to Roxbury, Mass. She graduated from the Cathedral High School in Boston, where she was a star on the debate team and won national honors in oratory with the school's speech team.

"It was evident at a young age that Mary possessed a unique sense of grace, poise, tenacity, and a thirst for self-improvement and knowledge," her family said.

She was baptized at the Concord Baptist Church, where she met her future husband, Gordon S. Houston. They were married in 1972.

Mary graduated from Boston University, where she majored in speech pathology, in 1974. She was initiated into the Epsilon Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority. She became chapter president.

After her marriage and graduation, she and her husband moved to Philadelphia, where her husband became pastor of the Christian Church of Philadelphia in Chestnut Hill. She and her husband served the church for more than 37 years.

In 1991, she began to preach the gospel there, and afterward attended the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, taking evening classes. She graduated in 2006 with a master's degree in religion.

Once her youngest child went to kindergarten, Mary embarked on her career as a speech pathologist, helping scores of young people overcome problems in speaking, verbal comprehension and swallowing in two school districts.

But even then, Mary wasn't finished with education. She enrolled at Cabrini College and earned a master's degree in education and won principal certification.

Mary enjoyed playing games with her children, especially trivia games inspired by the TV game show "Jeopardy."

She also enjoyed watching tennis, and trips to rural Mississippi where her father grew up on a farm.

When the children were in school, she became president of the Cecelia Snyder and Shafer Middle School Home and School Associations.

Mary was active with the Interdenominational Ministers' Wives and Ministers' Widows Association and the National, Pennsylvania and Chester Education Associations.

She was president of the Rho Theta Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, president of Bucks County Chapter of Jack and Jill of America, president of the Bennett Parents' Association, president of the Ivy Legacy Foundation and president of the Pennsylvania Association of Parliamentarians. She also was an officer of the Bucks County Chapter of the NAACP.

Besides her husband, she is survived by two sons, Gordon Stanley Houston Jr. and Alexander Graham Houston; two daughters, Kimberly Eugenia Houston and Jennifer Lauren Marie Wilson, and four grandchildren.

Services: 10 a.m. tomorrow at Christian Church of Philadelphia, 8044 Stenton Ave. Friends may call at 8 a.m. Burial will be in Ivy Hill Cemetery.