Chapel Hill's love affair with Mary Jane Price ended on February 3rd, 2020, as she passed away peacefully at the Dubose Center in Chapel Hill at the age of 83. Mary Jane lived her life as if she were in a hurry to make as many friends as possible. Fiercely supportive of her sons, Tripp and Ken, and her grandkids, Catherine and Hudson, she helped raise many more as her home became ground zero for the Chapel Hill High School and UNC social scene in the 1980s. She loved to entertain and was a member of two bridge clubs. Mary Jane was an avid everything, continuously developing new passions throughout her life, from the Tar Heels to photography to wrestling. Invariably cheerful and selfless, she treated strangers as if they were friends and friends as if they were family.
Mary Jane Boydell Price was the daughter of the late Kenneth Hesford Boydell and late Mary Owen Blackwell. Mary Jane was born on October 15, 1936 in Alton, Va, but she moved often as a young child since her father managed Burlington Mills plants in Virginia and North Carolina. The family eventually settled in Greensboro on Mariken Farms, a name Mary Jane herself chose for the new home. She attended Greensboro Senior High and was a member of the band, graduating in 1955 and moving on to Peace College from where she graduated in 1957. On March 21, 1957, Mary Jane married her high school sweetheart Bobby Price. She and Bob moved into Glen Lennox Apartments while he completed his studies at UNC-CH and attended medical school. During that time, she worked on a fruit fly reproduction project for the Zoology Department at UNC and conducted EKGs at Memorial Hospital. In November of 1962 their first child Tripp was born, followed by another son Ken 17 months later in April 1964. To the very end, Mary Jane was a devoted mother to the two boys. In 1966, Mary Jane and the boys moved back to the farm in Greensboro while Bob served in Vietnam, before returning to Chapel Hill the following year. Mary Jane was the neighborhood Mom, mothering all the children in the neighborhood. She made sure Tripp and Ken were involved in many activities and was a consistent presence on the sidelines from their youth through their high school years. Mary Jane raised funds for Chapel Hill High School athletics and the YMCA and became the team mom for the Chapel Hill Wrestling team, a position she continued to hold for over 30 years, surely a school record. As her boys coached the team, she could be seen on the edge of the mat taking pictures that many of the wrestlers still treasure to this day. After her boys finished high school, MJ decided to go back to school and take photo journalism classes. She became the darkroom manager and, not surprisingly, the school mom to another generation of kids. Her love of photography continued, and she formed Visual Impact with some friends, doing presentations for groups throughout the Triangle area. In 1993, her first grandchild Catherine was born and MJ became a daycare worker, taking care of her and making sure she had opportunities to experience as much of life as possible, from dance to swimming to tennis to golf -- you name it and MJ was there! In 1998, her grandson Hudson was born, and MJ continued to make sure both kids got to practice and games on time. She used her photography skills to document all their activities and adventures. She continued to be seen in the stands at both grandkids' events and Chapel Hill wrestling matches until her health forced her to stay home.
Mary Jane is survived by her husband Robert E Price, Jr, her youngest son Kenneth Owen Price, eldest son Robert E. "Tripp" Price, III, and his wife Heidi and their children Catherine Dawn Price and Robert Hudson Price.
The family will be holding a celebration of Mary Jane's life on Sunday, March 29 at 1pm the Carolina Club - George Watts Hill Alumni Center, Stadium Drive, Chapel Hill, NC
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made Chapel Hill High School Athletics (care of Tim Bennett, AD), or the Parkinson's Foundation Center of Excellence at UNC.
Walker's Funeral Home of Chapel Hill is assisting the Price family.