In Memory of Dr. Mary Emily Kingsbury

April 16, 2014

Dr. Mary KingsburyOn April 4, 2014, Dr. Mary Emily Kingsbury, former professor at the School of Information and Library Science (SILS) at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill died peacefully after a long illness.

“I have so many wonderful memories of Mary” said Dr. Barbara B. Moran, Louis Round Wilson Distinguished Professor. “She was the chair of the search committee when I was hired so I soon became familiar with her vibrant and mischievous sense of humor. Mary had a huge influence not only on the students she taught, but on her colleagues. She had many interests—chief among them children’s literature—and pursued them all with passion. She was a valued friend and colleague who will be missed greatly by those who knew her.”

Dr. Mary Kingsbury was born in Sioux City, Iowa in 1932, and earned her doctorate at the University of Oregon, Master’s in Education from Oregon State University and Master of Arts in Library Science from Rosary College. Dr. Kingsbury previously taught at the Department of Library Science, University of Portland, OR and prior to that, she was a high school teacher and counselor. She earned a J.D. (law degree) from North Carolina Central University in 1989 and passed the North Carolina Bar Exam. She taught Children’s Literature and Storytelling courses at SILS from July 1, 1973 until her retirement on June 30, 1994.

Dr. KingsburyDr. Kingsbury’s many contributions to children’s literature and services span her teaching, research and publishing career. Over the many years she taught storytelling and the evaluation of children’s literature and resources, she brought an unprecedented verve and devotion to the subject. With this enthusiasm she infected her protégés with a love of “kiddie lit” topics. Dr. Kingsbury also brought her enthusiasm to bear on her conversations with colleagues and students.  She was curious about and completed biographical research and writing on Sir William Osler. Along with a strong interest in medical history, Dr. Kingsbury was one of the first female members of the American Osler Society. 

For those who knew Dr. Kingsbury, you will remember her spunky personality, her long blond hair and her beloved schnauzers. She loved visiting London, England; going to the theater; and most of all, reading. Her favorite author was Jane Austen and Pride and Prejudice was her favorite book. She was incredibly generous, donating numerous valuable volumes of books to the UNC Libraries in 2006.

“Mary Kingsbury was one of the most outrageously honest people I have ever met,” said Dr. Helen Tibbo, Alumni Distinguished Professor and Kingsbury’s close friend and guardian. “She always told it like she saw it and you could depend on her giving you an honest opinion.”

There will be no memorial service for Dr. Kingsbury. Her remains have been placed beside Helen Walsh Kingsbury, her mother, in the Riverview Abbey Mausoleum in Portland, OR.