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It truly was a privilege, Mary


January 21, 2015
I hope you had the privilege of meeting Mary Talmadge. If you did, then you understand that it truly was a privilege.

Mary came to Crawford County via Arizona with her husband, Mike. Without a doubt, it was Arizona's loss and Crawford County's gain.

It was our gain because Mary had a no-nonsense honesty about her that is rare. It was that no-nonsense honesty that helped her make the county a better place in her 10 years here.

Not long after coming to Indiana, Mary was hired as a Family Nutrition Program assistant with the Crawford County Extension Office, where she visited senior citizens to make sure they were eating healthy.

It was the perfect job for Mary, because, beneath that no-nonsense exterior was a heart of gold. She truly cared about her clients' wellbeing.

Despite not having lived in the county for long, Mary quickly came to care for it. She and others were instrumental in forming the United Way of Crawford County in 2008. Mary went on to serve as the chairman of the group's advisory council.

In addition to awarding grants to organizations like the county's food pantries, the United Way has conducted food drives, organized the distribution of prescription discount cards, and has conducted a "Stuff the Bus" school supply drive at either the Corydon or Paoli Walmart annually.

It's difficult to say when Mary's love for community began. Perhaps, it was during her most recent job prior to moving to Indiana, when she taught inmates in the Arizona prison system how to do jobs of their own. Maybe it was when Mary, a former chef, owned a deli and interacted daily with customers. Or maybe it was just something with which she was born.

About five years ago, Mary opened Mad M's Trading Post next to her home between Milltown and Marengo. It captured her personality perfectly. Named in reference to her husband's nickname when he was the front man for a blues and country band, the small trading post was an outlet for a long-time passion of hers: making jewelry.

"I've been making jewelry ever since I can remember. I mean, since my teens," Mary, 55 at the time, said.

Calling herself "a little avant-garde" compared to the rest of the area jewelry makers, Mary pulled from her southwestern roots, often using turquoise in her work, to make one-of-a-kind or, as she put it, eccentric pieces. For example, she was a fan of antique-like photo transfer jewelry.

It worked. Like Mary herself, people were drawn to her jewelry, and it was their interest — she often was asked to make pieces — that led her to open the trading post.

Besides her jewelry, the trading post featured her other interests, including horse tack, crafts, gift items and various items made by local Amish.

Unfortunately, we lost Mary, when, surrounded by a group of nurses with Janis Joplin playing, she passed away peacefully on Jan. 6 at an Indianapolis hospital, following a long and exhausting, yet courageous, battle with leukemia.

Thank you, Mary, for all that you did to make Crawford County better. Thank you for being a wonderful friend to many. But, most of all, thank you for being you.

It was a privilege.

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Barbara Shaw
Schuler Bauer
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