Mary Birmingham Emery: A Notre Dame Legacy

By Monica May, Development Director

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Mary Emery, 1937-2011

Making a will is assumed to be a serious, perhaps even a somber time.  But Mary’s account of setting up a trust in 2007 sounded more like a happy, freeing experience!  She had me laughing as she told me how some good friends had practically tied her up at her home to help her do what she had intended to do since her husband died in 2000.  She told me, then, that she was remembering the Sisters in her estate plans.

I first met Mary, a Notre Dame High School (San Jose) graduate, when Judge Eugene Premo nominated her in 1987 to be on our Development Board.  With great appreciation and care for the Sisters, Mary contributed her time, energy, strong personality and support.  As a board member and later, as Chair, she never took herself too seriously and had a delightful (some would say ‘wicked’) sense of humor.

Mary’s primary commitment was always the Santa Clara Law School; everyone knew that.  She served as Director of the Law Library right after graduating from law school there, and became the Associate Dean in 1986.  She and others joked that she might as well have an ‘SJ’ after her name.

Mary’s death in August was a shock to everyone.  Much too young, too vibrant.

I was deeply touched to learn that memorial contributions were designated for Sisters of Notre Dame as well as for Santa Clara Law School. Shortly afterwards, we learned that Mary also remembered both the Sisters of Notre Dame and Notre Dame High School very generously in her estate plans. Fiercely loyal in her life, politics, faith, friends and commitments, Mary Emery will be greatly missed by so many of us who knew and loved her and lovingly and gratefully remembered by the Sisters.


Making a Will: Mary’s Advice

  • Don’t procrastinate any longer!
  • Get help if you need it!
  • Remember friends and family who are important to you.
  • Let your estate plans reflect your ongoing care for Sisters of Notre Dame; they will be grateful.