MARY CLAIRE BONDURANT WARREN
1930 - 2021
Mary Claire Bondurant Warren, 91, passed away at her home in Athens, Georgia, on April 16, 2021, with many of her family around her. Born February 5, 1930, in Athens, the first child of John Parnell Bondurant II and his wife Mary Claire Brannon Bondurant, she lived in Athens much of her life. She graduated from the University of Georgia with a Bachelors degree in Physics in 1950, then worked as a researcher in the field of nuclear medicine at Oak Ridge, Tennessee, 1950-1952.
Her father’s interest in researching their Bondurant ancestry got her started in genealogy in the 1950s. Mary applied scientific methods, as well as her uncanny “bloodhound” instinct, to find solutions to the problems she encountered in examining old records and searching for documentation of family members. She published the nation’s only weekly genealogical magazine Family Puzzlers (1964-1997), as well as two quarterly magazines Carolina Genealogist and Georgia Genealogist (1970-1985). She also shared her expertise by preparing more than 50 programs and one-day workshops for genealogical societies over the country.
Mary recognized the critical need for abstracting, indexing and publishing old records to get this material into the hands of researchers all over the country. Thus her publishing business Heritage Papers was born; more than 200 volumes of genealogical resource materials have been printed since 1964. Her predominant focus over the past 20 years has been abstracting Georgia colonial records for her British Georgia series, which often necessitated research trips to the National Archives in Britain. Many of these volumes were printed with grants from the R.J. Taylor, Jr. Foundation. And now most of those books are also available in Kindle digital format on Amazon.com.
Researching her father’s French Huguenot ancestor Jean Pierre Bondurant, who arrived at Jamestown, Virginia, in September 1700, sent her to France, Germany, and Switzerland looking for records. A founding member of the Bondurant Family Association (1988), she organized a large tour to Génolhac, France, the birthplace of Jean Pierre Bondurant in 1993. She served as president of the organization several times, and was the editor of the newsletter for its first 100 issues (25 years). And she frequently prepared exhibits, driving tours of Virginia sites associated with the family, as well as presentations about the family for the annual meetings. She published three volumes about this early family; research which is being continued by her daughters Amy and Eve.
Mary also was involved in preserving the history of her hometown. A founding member of the Athens Historical Society in 1959, she served as its president for three terms, 1963, 1997, and 1998. The transcription of grave markers in the Old Athens Cemetery and the Old Section of Oconee Hill Cemetery was carried out by AHS volunteers under her leadership in the mid-1960s. She contributed to The Tangible Past in Athens, Georgia, in 2014, which was edited and published by her long-time friend, Charlotte Thomas Marshall. This rich volume preserved many stories of life in Athens of yore and quickly sold out. She also contributed articles to the Athens Historian, the annual volume of papers published by AHS, and The Georgia Geneaogical Society Quarterly.
She received numerous awards and recognitions for her contributions to genealogical research over the years. The Georgia Historical Records Advisory Board (GHRAB) honored her with its Lifetime Achievement Award in October 2010. She received the Augustus Longstreet Hull Award from the Athens Historical Society in January 2017. And the Georgia Genealogical Society recognized her for Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Genealogy for her long-time service and significant contributions to the field of genealogy in December 2019. But it was the love and appreciation of her dedicated readers, researchers and colleagues over the years that meant the most to her.
Amazingly, she even found time to garden, learn to play the harp, and create beautiful designs by marbling fabrics and paper, as well as painting and jewelry making. She was a member of the Wednesday Study Club, the Glenwood Garden Club, the Georgia Genealogical Society, and a founder of the Bondurant Family Association. She grew up in the First United Methodist Church in Athens, where her father was a lifelong member.
Mary was predeceased by her parents, brother John Parnell Bondurant III, aunt Birdie Bondurant Clower, all of Athens, and former husband James Randolph Warren of Pocataligo, Georgia. She is survived by her brother Emmet (Jane) Bondurant II of Atlanta, six nieces and nephews, three great-nephews, numerous cousins, as well as her five children, eight grandchildren, twelve great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandson.
It was her wish for her body to be cremated. Due to Covid-19 risk, no funeral will be held. A marker in her memory has been placed in the lot with her parents in Section H of Oconee Hill Cemetery in Athens. The family suggests that a memorial donation may be made to one of these organizations which Mary often supported with her expertise and contributions: Friends of Oconee Hill Cemetery (https://www.oconeehillcemetery.com/membership), Friends of the Georgia Archives, Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library (contact email@example.com), or the Georgia Museum of Art (contact firstname.lastname@example.org).
Photo credit “Courtesy of Pat McAlexander, used with permission”
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