Mary Claire Axford


Mary Claire Axford of Evanston, Ill., born in 1950, died July 10, 2019, at home surrounded by family. She was the daughter of the late Thomas Granberry Dowdy and Bernice Midgett Dowdy of Manteo, N.C. She had deep, treasured family roots in the Outer Banks of North Carolina, loved the beach, and raised her children in Milbridge.

Mary Claire was a talented painter, prolific gardener and devoted wife, mother and grandmother. She was her children’s champion, and taught them to be brave and loving and to always take time to smell the roses.

She earned a Master of Social Work degree and had a long career as a therapist, helping countless people in three states. She was also a creative nonconformist with a spirited sense of humor and adventure. In their early married years, she and her husband, Ted, lived off the grid in Washington County, where they established many lifelong friendships.

Mary Claire was predeceased by her parents, sister Edna Bruce Dowdy Etheridge and brother-in-law Ernest Etheridge. She is survived and deeply missed by her husband of 46 years, Ted Axford; children, Mason Granberry Axford of Hopkinton, Mass., and Yarrow Axford of Evanston, Ill.; sister Ann Dowdy Morse and brother-in-law Donald Morse of Gray; her Morse and Etheridge nieces and nephews; sister- and brother-in-law Rita Axford and Gary Grunwald; son-in-law Chris Kuzawa; and beloved grandchildren, Kinley Axford and Leo Kuzawa. She blessed her grandchildren’s lives by sharing her love of art and nature, and especially her love for them, at every opportunity.

In lieu of flowers, donations in her memory may be made to the Evanston Art Center at

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Know when to pay your respects.