Mary Ellen Bright, 97, passed peacefully away from this world on April 16, 2009. A Celebratory Open house where memories and stories can be shared is set from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday, June 7 at the home of Leah and Chris Petri, 3000 Belmont Circle in Austin.

She was born Mary Ellen Taylor in Pittsburgh, Penn., on November 3, 1911. Upon the death of her mother in 1917, she and her two older sisters were raised by their beloved spinster aunts.

While in Sarasota, Florida on vacation in 1933, she met Dunning Bright, who had unhappily canceled a fishing trip and took Mary Ellen on a blind date to a tea dance. He joined his friends at the dance but soon noticed that all of his friends were lining up to dance with someone; his date. He quickly reconsidered his situation and it was then that he was hooked and reeled in for life. He learned something that night; one simply could not ignore Mary Ellen.

They married in Memphis, Tenn. in 1935, and took the train to Dallas where they set up housekeeping. Just before Pearl Harbor in 1941, they bought Kelly Smith Cleaners in Austin. It was a time when Austin was a small college town and great friendships were made with doctors, lawyers, politicians and businessmen that lasted the rest of their lives; their’s was “the Greatest Generation.”

Everyone looked forward to the Bright’s annual oyster parties with barrels of oysters in the garage, Mary Ellen meeting people at the door with her electric smile and her clam chowder. She was gifted with quick wit and entertained everyone with her endless sense of humor and charm.

She spent her last years living in the country outside Bryan with her daughter “Dede’ , where everyone thought she wouldn’t “find trouble” but of course everyone was wrong. Even into her 90’s she could cause a commotion of some sort that would cause heads to shake and tears of laughter to fall shamelessly down one’s cheeks. She has left behind a wealth of stories and a family who will miss her mightily.

Survivors include her daughter, Rosemary “Dede” Bright; and son, Dunning Bright and wife Patti; her four grandchildren, Trey Hanover and wife Stephanie, Leah Petri and husband Chris, Bonnie Bright and Katie Bright, also known as “Granny”; great-grandchildren, Cuatro and Kendall Hanover and Walker and Hughes Petri; her dear friends, most of whom have been patiently waiting for her on the other shore, she was “Chip” or “M.E.”, a cohort, confidante and ethereal pied piper whose charm, wit and sparkling countenance made their circle complete and their lives never boring.

In lieu of flowers the family respectfully asks you to consider donating to Hospice of Brazos Valley in Bryan or the Hearne Nursing Center in Hearne. Two fine organizations that gave her wonderful and tender care while sharing our appreciation fo her spunky humor to the end.

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