By Gary Mitchell
Those who knew her best invariably described Mary Carol Hartley as a brave, compassionate lady.
Hartley, 62, died at her home Thursday after a 15-year on-and-off bout with cancer.
Hartley’s husband, 9th Judicial District Judge Ted Hartley, choked back his emotions late Thursday.
“It’s kind of a tough time, but the Good Lord will see us through,” he said. “She loved her church, she loved her community, and she loved her children and grandchildren. I’ll miss her.”
Mary Carol Hartley was Clovis/Curry County Chamber of Commerce president in 1995, said Ernie Kos, executive director of the chamber.
“She was part of the team who hired me,” Kos said. “She came to the United Way office and visited with me about coming to work at the chamber. She was already fighting her battle with cancer. She told me she was chamber president simply because she could be. The following year, the chamber recognized her as the Citizen of the Year.”
Kos said Hartley made quite a difference in her life.
“I would describe her as a very gracious, generous and brave woman,” she said. “She had a huge impact on my life, and I know she touched hundreds of other lives as well. She will be deeply missed.”
In 2001, Hartley was named honorary chairwoman for the American Cancer Society’s annual Relay For Life.
At that time, Hartley was quoted in a newspaper story that when she talks to other cancer survivors, she talks about the importance of family.
“When you’re in a life-or-death situation, family is extremely important,” she said. “I had a very strong support system, and it helps a lot.”
Hartley’s sister-in-law, Lori Hartley, said, “There’s just one thing to say about her — she was always a lady. She had a heart of gold and was very compassionate toward other people. When I first came into the family, she welcomed me into the family. She was the most elegant entertainer I’ve ever known. She was special — a sweetheart to all of us.”
The Rev. Steve McElroy, Hartley’s pastor at First United Methodist Church, described her as “a person of faith.”
“Her faith really did give her strength right up to the end,” he said. “She held onto her faith, and her faith gave her strength. She was a lady of class. She stayed true to herself. She was very active in the church, and the church for her was a place to worship and serve. She was one of those people who made you feel good to be around her.”
Nancy Taylor, a friend and executive director of Life Saver Food Bank, said Hartley was “a concerned and caring friend who had a love for children and for others who suffered through the same type of cancer issues she dealt with so bravely through the years. She learned to take every day as a blessing.”
Hartley’s involvement in regional service organizations is a long one, ranging from political interests to her work with a shelter for victims of domestic violence.
“Mary Carol was a strong, compassionate, determined lady,” said Chris Walters, friend and Clovis Community College liberal arts division chair. “She faced her battle with cancer head on and never faltered, just as she faced every other challenge in her life… She cared about our community, her friends, and her family, and she made a difference.”