Mary Lucille “Mary Lu” Pearson, 99, of Lewes, Del., passed away on Saturday, July 10, 2021, at The Moorings at Lewes. She was born on April 11, 1922, in Decatur, Ill., daughter of the late Durward Dillow and Frances (Massengill) Dillow.
Pearson attended Decatur High School and Metropolitan Business School in Rockford, Ill. She worked as an accountant for Montgomery Ward until the birth of her daughter, following which she was a stay-at-home mother until 1953, when the family moved to the Republic of Panama Canal Zone. She went to work as a secretary and court reporter at Fort Amador, Army HQ, and then Quarry Heights, Joint Chiefs of Staff, Southern Command HQ. She traveled on assignments with officers from three services to military missions and advisory groups in Central and South America.
In 1964, with her children in stateside schools, Pearson transferred to the Pentagon, assigned to the personal staff of Gen. Earle G. Wheeler, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. She was assigned to his Latin American desk and later to the Chairman’s Liaison Officer to President Johnson, maintaining both the Pentagon and White House offices.
In 1969, with the change in administrations, she worked in the same assignments under Adm. Thomas H. Moorer and President Nixon. She was also assigned to help the officer setting up a weekly debriefing for all living former presidents: Johnson, Eisenhower and Truman, as requested by President Johnson. With the Vietnam War escalating, Moorer was replacing all staff personnel with military. She helped with the reorganization and, in 1972, transferred to the International Security Agency, Office of the Secretary of Defense. She took early retirement in June 1974.
Pearson worked for the law firm of Landis, Cohen, Singman & Rowe in Washington, D.C., until her husband’s retirement, when they moved to Rehoboth Beach, Del. She worked for the YMCA of Rehoboth, then as a real estate agent for Rehoboth Realty and Plummer Realty of Lewes.
She was one of the founding members of NARFE Chapter 1690 of Rehoboth and also a founding member of the Community Foundation for Women of Delaware. Following her husband’s death, she was given a membership on the Board of Directors of the Friends of Cape Henlopen State Park volunteers, in honor of her husband Eric’s years of contribution to the Nature Center and Park. She was as lifelong golfer, joining the women at Sussex Pines Country Club when she moved to Rehoboth. She was also a member of Groome United Methodist Church in Lewes.
In addition to her parents, Pearson was preceded in death by her husbands, Lewis F. Braden and Eric A. Pearson Jr.; her son, James L. Braden; her stepdaughter Elizabeth Sanza; her brother, Robert Dillow; and her sister, Patricia Kramer. She is survived by her daughter, Carole Lew Foley; her stepdaughter Eugenia A. Pearson; her sister, Betty K. Dawson; and four step-grandchildren.
A private interment for Pearson was planned at Delaware Veteran’s Cemetery, Millsboro, DE. Arrangements have been entrusted to Parsell Funeral Homes & Crematorium, Atkins-Lodge Chapel, Lewes, Del. Pearson’s life memorial webpage and a virtual guestbook are online at www.parsellfuneralhomes.com.