On February 3, 2023, Mary Elizabeth Claiborne died in Afton, Oklahoma. Mary was 77 years old. She passed away at Nancy Dalquest’s home at Grand Lake Towne where she was being cared for.
Mary Claiborne was born in Bartlesville, Oklahoma on March 1, 1945 to the parents of Edgar and Viola Claiborne. She attended schools in Bartlesville where she starred as Annie Oakley in her High School Musical. Mary went on to attend Stephens College in Columbia, Missouri where she graduated with two degrees in three years, Music and Communications. She was an accomplished organist and discovered her passion for film and video editing there.
After completing college, Mary took a job as a Film Editor with a film production company in Chicago, IL. She edited numerous films there before moving on to her next adventure in Taos, NM where she was hired to manage a local Ski Lodge. She loved to ski and loved Taos.
Soon after, Mary opened her first business, The Bread Basket, in Downtown Taos, NM and ran that for several years. Then came a call for the need of a Film Editor for educational and travel films from Bill Dawson of Tulsa, OK. Mary accepted the position and moved to Tulsa, on to her next exciting adventure.
This chapter became one of the highlights of her accomplished career as Film Producer and Editor working for Mr. Dawson’s multimillion dollar film, music and production studio established in 1976, Tulsa Studios. Tulsa Studios recorded numerous bands and orchestras, produced numerous films garnishing over 100 International first place awards in Film Festivals all over the world, and was featured in the International Billboard Magazine.
Growing on her experience from Tulsa Studios, Mary went on to work on several more films with her brother, Tom Claiborne of Tulsa, OK, and later with her close friend, Bill Smith of Eufaula, OK. Mary then partnered with her brother and started a new business venture, a Ken's Pizza restaurant in Eufaula, OK, where she and her Mother moved to a condominium there on the lake.
Mary became a full-time caregiver for her mother who contracted Alzheimer’s disease. This led to her and her brother starting long-term care facilities, Procare Homes, where they were able to care for their Mother as well as many other residents with dementia related problems.
After closing Procare Homes, Mary took a job working for several newspapers and Boat and Travel magazines at Grand Lake. As a newspaper reporter, Mary knew the names of everyone on Grand Lake and the towns around it and loved serving them.
Working under the pen names Arizona Smith and Lady Shutterbug, Mary was one of a kind and became a gifted writer and photographer. She never met a stranger and was loved by her community. Mary covered events for all the paper’s but the Grand Laker was her favorite. In 2022, Mary and the Grand Laker Newspaper received the Business of the Year Award, an honor she was very proud of.
A deeply devoted Christian, Mary was an active member of South Grand Lake Christian Church where she served in the capacities of Choir Director and Church Elder, among many other enthusiastic contributions to her beloved church and faith community. In gratitude for her years of compassionate care and faithful service, Mary was bestowed the high honor of Elder Emeritus in February 2023.
As a devout fisherman, Mary loved fishing for Crappie. She had a fishing pole in her car at all times and enjoyed participating in occasional Crappie fishing tournaments. She cherished her dogs, Sugar and Duke; and adored the birds so much that she would put food out everyday for the Hummingbirds and the Orioles.
Mary is survived by her brother, Tom Claiborne and wife Linda Claiborne, niece, Megan Claiborne, nephew, Ryan Claiborne and wife Aimee Claiborne, great nephew, Nolan Claiborne and sister-in-law, Melinda Claiborne; as well as nephews-in-law, Steve Wise, Doug Wise and Mike Wise, and great nephew, Jacob Wise.
A Memorial Service will be held on Friday, February 10, 2023 at 10 AM at the South Grand Lake Christian Church Disciples of Christ located at 446205 E 350th Rd, Vinita, OK 74301 - 2 miles north of Langley, OK.
In remembrance of Mary Claiborne’s life, the family asks that any charitable donations be made to South Grand Lake Church 446205 E 350th Rd, Vinita, OK 74301; or Wild Heart Animal Rescue 10491 S 4190 Rd, Claremore, OK 74017. Flowers may be sent to Luginbuel Funeral Home 332 N Scraper St, Vinita, OK 74301.
We will all miss Mary’s smile, sense of adventure and compassion for all.