Mary O'Hare

December 16th, 1923 to April 7th, 2019

Mary O’Hare has put down her paintbrush. She passed away on Sunday, April 7, 2019 Port Huron, Michigan.

Port Huron, the boyhood home of Thomas Alva Edison, the man who lit up the world. Also, the girlhood home of the painter Mary O’Hare, who painted the world.

Mary was an artist. When she was a small girl she had drawn a life size fly on the living room wall. Her father was unsuccessful at chasing the fly away. Only when he struck it with a flyswatter did he realize he had been tricked. The fly led to art lessons.

At age thirteen, Mary listened patiently to the suggestion of a librarian of Port Huron’s Public Library. The librarian recommended Mary see the extraordinary one-man show of forty oils and water colors that were exhibited on the upper floor of the library.

The librarian insisted that a visit to the exhibition would be a profitable experience as the paintings were very exceptional. Mary responded, “Thank you. I painted them.”

At sixteen she was admitted to the Cranbrook Academy. So, how was it she was accepted to Cranbrook at such an early age? The answer was she was gifted. She knew what she needed to do and that was to see and paint. From early on she was focused.

At Cranbrook she became Marshall Fredrick’s studio assistant and after working on several sculptural projects, began accepting commissions for church and school projects. Mary also studied at the Cape Cod School of Art and the Cleveland Institute of Art, from which she received her Bachelor of Arts degree. During her fifth year at Cleveland she commuted to Port Huron to set up the Studio Arts department at the Port Huron Junior College.

Mary had a broader education than painting and sculpture. She studied psychology and philosophy at Wayne State University and the University of Michigan.

Mary’s ability to capture a person in paint brought her work to the attention of the Vatican. Under commissions of the Vatican, she created images of St. Martin De Porres, and Blessed Clara Gambacorta, a fifteenth century nun, for the Beatification and Sainthood process. Those portraits are in the collection of the Vatican Museum. She produced those canvases in her Pisa, Italy studio. At that particular time she was able to take breaks from portraits with frequent trips into the countryside to paint landscapes. This was her most prolific period of landscape painting, capturing the play of light and color of Tuscany and the marble quarry at Carrara. She also travelled with her portable easel and color box across France, to Provence, the land of Cezanne.

Having completed the Vatican commissions, she was offered a ticket on the passenger ship the Leonardo DaVinci to Boston, where a number of patrons eager to have their portraits painted awaited her arrival. One evening at dinner, on the ship, the dining room hostess approached Mary and announced that Andrew Wyeth was also aboard ship. Would she like to be introduced to him? Mary responded, “Has he asked to be introduced to me?”

Amongst those whom she painted in Boston was Archbishop Cardinal Richard Cushing, who had invited Mary to “attempt the difficult task for the first portrait for which I every posed,” Cardinal Cushing wrote in a publication introducing Mary’s works at Emmanuel College in Boston. “When Mary O’Hare attempted to paint a portrait of me I think she undertook her greatest endeavor. It was a challenge for her to present in portrait form the character of one who is known to a few and understood by nobody - unless by Mary O’Hare.”

Mary made art her entire life, not setting down her brushes until she was thirty-nine. Maybe 59 or maybe simply 39 always.

She is survived by three sisters, Annabel Kinnee of Fort Gratiot, Joan Murray and Vickie (Bill) Hinkle, both of Houghton Lake, and a brother, Patrick (Lillian) O'Hare of Homosassa, FL, as well as her late brother Bert's former wife Meredith Schmidt. She was preceded in death by her parents, Ethelbert and Mary O'Hare, and by her sister, Margaret, and brothers, Thomas and Bert, also her brothers-in-law, Floyd Kinnee and Varse Murray. Mary leaves behind many nieces and nephews, as well as their children, and their children's children.

A Funeral Mass will be 11:00 a.m. on Thursday, April 11, 2019 in St. Edward on-the-Lake Catholic Church with visitation beginning at 10:30 a.m. The Reverend Lee Acervo will officiate.

Inurnment will be in Mt. Hope Cemetery.

Mass offerings in memory of Mary are preferred. To send condolences, visit

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