Honoring a familiar voice for more than 67 years


We typically use this space to discuss an important news issue facing the community, or sharing some thoughts we might have on improving the day-to-day lives of the people who live here.

This week, we want to discuss a feature story we have in the paper that, quite simply, blew our collective minds, and stands as a testament to one person’s commitment and why she is now one of our favorite community heroes.

Mary A.H. Mumford was 18 years old when she joined the choir at Salem United Methodist Church. Her new mother-in-law encouraged her to join, and she took the bait and threw herself into it completely. This past winter, Mumford decided to retire from the choir, but you could say she had a good run.

In fact, Mumford sang with the choir for 67 years.

She has spent those 67 years singing for her fellow parishioners, countless weddings and funerals, at Delaware Day at the Seattle World Fair in 1962 and for then-Vice President Richard Nixon, at the 1957 birthday party for U.S. Sen. John G. Townsend Jr. She sang in a trio last year at Salem with her daughter Marianna O’Neal and grandson Eli Mumford.

For 67 years, Mumford has shared her voice with her church, her community and, yes, her nation. She credits her voice as being a God-given gift, with assistance from her voice teacher, and one could easily argue that she has, in turn, gifted her voice to others.

Was every performance perfect? “It’s not all beer and Skittles,” the 87-year-old explained.

And, that is just a terrific answer.

Her’s is a tale of song, of grace and of commitment. Doing anything for 67 years is a tall task. Doing it publicly is even harder.

We thank Mary Mumford for her 67 years of providing music and love to her community and church.