Floral 26

Mary J (Denver) Beetham

November 10, 2023

Mary Beetham Obituary

Mary Jean Denver died peacefully in her home surrounded by her husband and children on November 10, 2023 after a long illness. She was born in Bayonne, N.J. in 1945, and graduated from Holy Family High School. Mary received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Jersey City State College and taught third grade in the Jersey City Schools for a number of years. She then earned a second undergraduate degree in Art History from Rutgers University, Newark. Mary attended University of Pennsylvania and was awarded a Masters of Arts degree in the History of Art, specializing in Northern Renaissance painting. Mary was a superb interpreter of iconography. As a student, she served as the photographer for the faculty of the Department of Architecture.

Mary married Donald Beetham on June 12, 1976 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where the newlyweds resided for two years and welcomed their first son, John, into the world. They moved to Highland Park, NJ in 1978. Three more children, Michael, Sarah, and Belinda were born at St. Peter’s Hospital in New Brunswick. Mary was a member of St. Paul the Apostle Roman Catholic Church. She served as a publicity chairman for St. Paul’s School with more than 50 stories and 50 photographs published. Mary was a choir member, as were all four of her children at various times in their development. She taught kindergarten at St. Paul’s School until it closed. She also taught elementary students at Our Lady of Peace in Fords and art classes at St. Peter the Apostle in New Brunswick. Mary played clarinet in the Greater Milltown, Greater Middlesex and Greater East Brunswick Community Bands.

In Highland Park, Mary was a member of the Human Relations Commission and the Shade Tree Advisory Committee. She also managed the Highland Park Native Plant Sanctuary on River Road with her daughter Belinda, who preceded her there. They arranged for the purchase, planting and caring for thousands of native plants. Great quantities of invasive, non-native plants were removed from the gardens. Mary founded, and then chaired, a Native Plant Society chapter in Highland Park for over 10 years. It was the third chapter of the New Jersey Native Plant Society and the first with a local name. Mary also served on the Board of the New Jersey Native Plant Society.

Mary volunteered to work with DIRE, an initiative of the Reformed Church of Highland Park and Interfaith Rise. She regularly visited with detainees at the Elizabeth Detention Center, many of whom found themselves all alone in this country. The detainees were forced to buy all their supplies (soap, toothpaste, etc,) from the detention center; Mary helped some of the detainees to afford these supplies.

Mary was predeceased by her son John. She is survived by her sisters, Nancy Denver and Elizabeth Gutchess, her husband, Donald Beetham, her son Michael and his wife Erin, her daughter Sarah and her husband Charlie Mahoney, her daughter Belinda, and four grandchildren, Lydia, Lucy, Calvin and Daisy.

The family requests that in lieu of flowers donations be made to the Native Plant Society of New Jersey or Hospice Care, Robert Wood Johnson Robert Wood Johnson Visiting Nurses.



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Memorial Mass
November 21, 2023

10:00 AM
St. Paul the Apostle Church
23 S. Fifth Avenue
Highland Park, NJ 08904


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