In Memory

Mary Beth Ostrander (Donnelley)

Date of death:  December 28, 2000

Age:  59

Residence at time of death:   Lake Forest

Cause of death:  Breast cancer

Occupation:  Owner of Foodstuffs gourmet shops in Glencoe and Evanston

Family:  Husband Richard, to whom she was married for 32 years;   daughters Courtney Liberman, Brooke Kuehnle and Mary Blake; three grandchildren; sister Susan Hood; brother Lee.

Mary Beth's life:   After HPHS, she majored in theater at Pine Manor Junior College in Massachusetts.   Diploma in hand,  she got a job where most women started in television in those a secretary at Channel 2 in Chicago, the CBS station.   She wasn't a secretary for long.   Seeing her brains and drive, the station brass made her a producer, and she was eventually put on the staff of the popular late night interview show  "At Random."   In eight years as a producer, she worked on arranging live interviews for various important newsmakers.

But the demands of  being a producer didn't slow down Mary Beth's busy social life in Chicago.  A November, 1965, article in the Tribune  describing the Bachelors and Benedicts' Ball, one of the premiere events for the younger socialites of the city, reported that Miss Ostrander "looked gorgeous in a strapless gown with a brown and white print bodice and brown skirt."  

Significantly, the newspaper account also told us that a tuxedoed fellow who seemed to be paying considerable attention to Mary Beth was Richard Donnelley III, a member of one of Chicago's most famous business families, R. R. Donnelley & Sons printing company.

Fifteen months later, in 1967, the social pages were reporting Mary Beth's engagement to Richard, describing her, in the cliche' of the time, as a Chicago "career girl."    Settling down with her husband in Lake Forest, Mary Beth turned her attention to numerous charities and community projects.  She was on the women's board of the Ravinia Festival Association and on the board of the Lake Forest chapter of the Infant Welfare Society.    

She had a passion for playing golf and traveled extensively with her husband.  She opened two gourmet food shops as an outgrowth of her own interest in enteretaining.  She also enjoyed needle-point and gardening.

     After her death from a 7-year battle with cancer, her husband and family launched a drive to build the Mary Beth Donnelley Pharmacology Center of the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center at Northwestern University.  It was dedicated in her memory on November 17, 2003.

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07/25/09 10:50 AM #1    

Kathy Harris**

Great gal! We were roommates at Penn Hall Prep School after I left HPHS. My fondest memories of MaryBeth were sneaking a bottle of vodka out of her parent's house during spring vacation and then drinking it! We both got sick! Guess that was a good lesson. We spent lots of time together during vacations. Saw each other, briefly, after Mary Beth got married and lived in the city. How sad that she left us so early in her life. I miss her.

08/31/09 06:01 PM #2    

Sandra Stevens (Shaw)

Mary Beth was one of my very best friends. As with everyone there are times you are closer than others.
I first met Mary Beth (or Bethie as some called her) when I joined Trinity Episcopal Church. She went to Elm Place and I to Edgewood. But every Sunday we sang in the choir together. She was so sweet not to be annoyed by my off key singing. That was the way she was, just being a friend. Of course, it was great when we got into High School together, but then she went off to prep school the last 2 years. But we never lost touch.

After college she lived in the city with one of her oldest friends, Mary Beth Turner, and Marcia Dicus. When Marcia got married Mary Beth asked me to move in. We lived right down from the Ambassador Hotel. Lots of fun prevailed! Our only falling-out came over her cats. I had a hard time, being allergic. But Ric Donnelly came to the rescue--he did not like them--so the cats went! And Mary Beth and Ric got engaged! (Of course, Ric must have gotten over that because they had more cats, dogs, birds, and who knows what at their house.) It was the most fun wedding, and I was lucky to be in it.

Of course, she moved, and I went to Florida, but we always stayed in touch. When I married I had a very small wedding (married in Palm Beach), so when I came back to HP Mary Beth threw me and my husband a beautiful party in her Lake Forest home. Then, when my Father died in 1990, she open her heart and home for us to stay, and got me through it all.

Of course there were years we did not talk or see each other, but we always knew we were there for eachother. I must say after the Summer of 1999, when I last saw her, I went into denial. I felt guilty I was not there for her, but then that is a drawback of owning a SMALL store and being far away. I wrote Mary Beth, but never heard from her. After she died I wrote Ric, and said I wish we could have been closer. He said that in the last year she pulled away from everyone. I guess we all cope in our own way. All I can say is I was blessed to call Mary Beth my friend and to be hers.

Sandra Stevens Shaw

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