Mary's Story

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Mary Frances (Pitynski) Carpenter died January 22, 2017. Mary was born February 20, 1926 in Detroit, Michigan, the eldest of five children born to Martin and Elenora (Siek) Pitynski. Martin and Elenora were Polish immigrants who met and married in the U.S. Mary graduated from high school at the age of 16, where she was voted most likely to succeed. She received a B.S. in Chemistry from Wayne State University (1946), and M.S. (1948) and Ph.D. (1952) degrees in Zoology from the University of Michigan. It was at the University of Michigan Biological Station, on a blind date on a Saturday night, that Mary met the love of her life, Charles Congden Carpenter. Chuck and Mary were married in the fall of 1947 and were married for more than 68 years.

Mary was a pioneering scientist at a time when women working outside the home, much less as scientists, was rare. She was a member scientist of the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation from 1954 - 1987, where she conducted research on prostaglandin synthesis among other topics. She was also Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center. She held office in many professional organizations, including serving as President of the Oklahoma Academy of Science. She served on multiple editorial boards and National Institute of Health grant review panels. She published over 70 scientific articles.

Mary successfully balanced a demanding career with motherhood in an era when that was not the norm, and set a fabulous example for her three children. She loved to cook and entertain, was an avid reader, and was always fashionably dressed, thanks in part to her excellent sewing skills. She loved classical music and to dance with "Cha Cha Charlie". She collected hand thrown pottery and angels. She loved to travel and visited Japan, the Czech Republic, Italy, France, Scotland, England, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, the Caribbean, and Mexico among other localities. In 1998 she and her sister Virginia visited Poland together to trace their ancestry.

Her husband Chuck, eldest daughter Janet, sister Bernice, brother Robert, and an infant brother preceded Mary in death. Her sister, Virginia Blanton of Dearborn, Michigan; daughter, Caryn and husband Joe Vaughn of Norman; son, Geoffrey of Bosque Farms, New Mexico; grandson, Andrew and wife Mona Vaughn of Norman; granddaughters, Katherine Vaughn of Norman and Emilie Carpenter of Bosque Farms; and great grandson Frank Vaughn of Norman survive her.

Donations may be made in Mary's honor to the Charles and Mary Carpenter Endowed Fund care of the University of Oklahoma Foundation, PO Box 258856, Oklahoma City, OK 73125-8856, (866) 321-1174. This fund will provide support for graduate students in the Department of Biology to conduct research in the areas of natural history, ecology, animal behavior and/or conservation.

A memorial service will be held at a later date.
Published on January 24, 2017
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