Christian 07

Mary Bernice LeVesque

March 24, 1949 ~ November 15, 2023 (age 74) 74 Years Old
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Mary LeVesque Obituary

Mary Bernice LeVesque shared with us her positive energy, integrity, intellect, and creative spirit. She shared her enthusiasm for life, zeal for knowledge, and diligence, based on a deep love for humankind.With her quick wit and sense of humor, Mary increased what she termed “the joy factor” at work, playing music, volunteering, and daily life.She was a “bright light in the world” touching us, her family and friends, people she met through her professional work, volunteer work, and community activities.She was also the epitome of both an educated dilettante and a Renaissance woman. She passed away on November 15, 2023, in Rohnert Park, California.


Born Mary Bernice Raaen, in Emporia, Kansas in 1949 she was raised with her sister Kathy (deceased) in Minneapolis, Minnesota.In 1965 she moved to San Francisco, completed an AA degree at San Francisco City College (SFCC) while working at Sears credit department.It was there that she met Michael LeVesque and moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico, where they were married.She and Michael moved to Edmonton, Alberta, Canada and gave birth to her first daughter Sarah in 1972.Afterwards they moved to Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada and then back to the United States, to Cortez Colorado at the foot of Mesa Verde.There she and Michael opened the Cortez Health Food Center. In 1974, Anna, Mary’s second daughter, Anna was born in Durango, Colorado. Afterwards the family moved to London England for Mary to study finger picking guitar with Stefan Grossman.They lived in Saint-Paul-de-Jarrat, France before returning to London and settling in Tucson, Arizona. Mary continued to study guitar and Nursing at Pima Community College. When Mary realized that nursing was not her career choice and that the extreme sunlight was a concern with fair-haired children, they moved to San Francisco. Michael opened Vitamin Express, and the family settled into school and work.Mary and Michael separated and an agreeable divorce took place.


Mary returned to SFCC to study piano and film. It was there where she met David Wiseman with whom she directed and edited Beauties Without a Cause, a fun high-camp production first viewed at the first San Francisco Film Festival, and many European and other festivals. Mary taught film and video at Bay Area Video Coalition, worked on independent film and video productions in the Bay Area, specializing in sound editing.

Mary then enrolled in the Master of Science program at the American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine, one of the oldest and most prestigious Eastern medical schools in the United States. She graduated in 1990 and completed post-graduate studies in Chengdu, China (Sichuan Province).She held certifications in specialized acupuncture protocols for HIV/AIDS and for treating addiction, as well as Amma and Tui-Nai Massage, natural medicine, homeopathy, and nutritional counseling. Mary had a private acupuncture practice in San Francisco and helped people with HIV/AIDS at the Kwan Yin Healing Arts Center.She often volunteered her services, such as to treat children born addicted to drugs and their mothers, in a court appointed treatment program. Mary worked as a clinic supervisor at Meiji College of Acupuncture in Oakland and was an adjunct professor in Eastern Philosophy at John F. Kennedy University in Orinda.

Mary met her wife Laurie Warren (The Rev. Lauren Warren, Deacon) in 1989.In 2002 Mary and Laurie moved to Ashland, Oregon and Mary received her Certificate in Wine Studies at the Culinary Institute of America in Napa. They then moved to Snohomish, Washington where Laurie opened specialized classrooms for students with autism. Mary worked at the University of Washington Bookstore in Bellevue as a bookseller and led book groups that she entitled “Queen Mary” for travel book enthusiasts, “Bloody Mary” for mysteries, and “Storytime Mary” for children, led other book groups and assisted with author events.

Laurie and Mary returned to the Bay Area in 2009 and lived in Santa Rosa. Mary took a position at Vitamin Express in the Berkeley store and soon became the manager. She held educational sessions for customers especially focused on women’s health and menopause and increased the store’s sales and popularity. Mary trained staff members at all store locations.

Mary loved learning and accumulated over 400 units of study at SFCC in Spanish, French, German, medical science, music theory and math. She also studied Cantonese, Mandarin and Russian through tutors.Most recently, Mary attended Santa Rosa Junior College studying Japanese and Culinary Arts. Unfortunately, COVID interrupted her intended completion of the Culinary Arts Certification program at SRJC.She also continued independent studies of philosophy, religion, art, literature, health, science and languages (French, Russian and Korean). Mary shared these subjects with her daughter Anna on a regular basis.


Music was a major love for Mary. Over the years she learned many instruments and varied styles of music (from Alternative Rock to Zydeco) with many teachers.Mary played accordion, blues harmonica, ukulele, banjo, Appalachian dulcimer, electric guitar, drums, trombone, trumpet (coronet), clarinet and saxophone. Mary and her friends from the Santa Rosa Senior Center known as “The Ukulelians,” enjoyed the upsurge in the popularity of the ukulele, performing at the Sonoma County Fair, Sebastopol Community Cultural Center, and other venues. She taught ukulele to many students, and that continues on.Mary supported local programs for music in the schools.For the last year of her life, up until the day before she died, Mary played piano and coronet an hour each, every day and was taking up the accordion again.

In retirement, Mary focused on creating art- especially drawing and painting, taking art classes at Kickwheel Pottery and at Arteluma in Petaluma, Sebastopol Center for the Arts, and engaged in independent study in Japanese calligraphy and drawing.Mary wrote and performed one-act plays. She also volunteered as an ELL literacy tutor through Sonoma Public Library, cooking for the Ceres Project making therapeutic meals for people with cancer, and cooking meals for delivery to home-bound individuals at The Redwood Food Bank. A committed “Deacon’s Wife”, Mary assisted Laurie with editing sermons and helping with a myriad of special events and projects over the years, lending her heart and hands to those in need- and those needing more joy in their lives.Those of us who knew Mary are grateful for the ministry of joy and healing that she brought to the world.


As Kahlil Gibran has written:
“If you would indeed behold the spirit of death,
open your heart wide unto the body of life.
For life and death are one, even as the river and the sea are one...
Only when you drink from the river of silence shall you indeed sing.
And when you have reached the mountain top, then you shall begin to climb. And when
the earth shall claim your limbs, then shall you truly dance.”

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Services

Celebration of Life with Reception to follow
Saturday
January 20, 2024

1:00 PM
St. John's Episcopal Church - Petaluma
40 5th Street
Petaluma, CA 94952

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