February 6, 1929 – June 13, 2019
Mary Jane Johnson Tate passed peacefully into the arms of the Lord on the morning of June 13th.
Born on February 6, 1929, to the late James F. Johnson and Elizabeth Bowen Johnson of Raleigh, NC, Mary Jane was a child of the Great Depression. Her father owned the Cherokee Brick Co., and his influence taught her to be frugal and self-sufficient. As a teen, she was athletic, and somewhat a tom-boy, directing those attributes towards a love of horsemanship. She even talked her parents into buying her a horse that she kept in a stable in her back yard on Glenwood Avenue. Regarding her education, she was proud to be a charter student of the Ravenscroft School as a child and later attended St. Mary’s School. She went on to Georgian Court College in New Jersey and graduated from The University of North Carolina. At Georgian Court, she experienced the excitement of post-war New York and at Chapel Hill, she became a lifelong Tar Heel fan and met Allen Tate, to whom she was married for 25 years.
During their marriage, she helped Allen build his successful real estate and development businesses serving in many roles ranging from administrative work to interior design, all while actively engaging in their many civic activities like the Charlotte Jay-Cees. When she became a mother, her focus turned to her children. She was an active neighborhood mom ensuring ideal childhoods for Allen and Libby in Kingswood and Foxcroft East. She never missed a birthday party, Cub Scout meeting or field trip, but she enjoyed sports the most. Swim meets, ball games, gymnastics competitions, and horse shows; she loved the competition and made sure that her children never missed an opportunity.
Mary Jane’s faith was very important to her. A born again Christian, she spent many years as a member of a regular prayer group with whom she shared her personal cares and ministered to others. She also had many happy times and good fellowship with a regular bridge group. Mary Jane loved the beach, and after her children finished college, she designed and built a small beach house. Cleverly built on an old trailer frame and known as “Marlette Manor”, she spent many happy times with her life-long friends, the Millers, and their Ocean Lakes crew. Her lifelong hobby was gardening. She could grow anything, and spoiled family and friends with homegrown and home cooked everything which we will all miss very much.
In her later years, she developed a close friendship with Essie Lanier, who had helped raise Mary Jane’s grandchildren. They shared many common interests. Essie’s devotion and care, along with the same from Phalytha Livingston and Shirley Turner over the past two years, gave quality and comfort to her life. The family is grateful to these three ladies for the loving care they provided.
Mary Jane is survived by her two children H. Allen Tate, III and his wife Sha, Libby Tate Gordon and her husband Paisley, and four grandchildren; Allen Tate, IV, Carter Elizabeth Tate, C. Paisley Gordon, III and Elizabeth Bowen Gordon; all of Charlotte, and a sister-in-law, Betty Tate Clark of Gaffney, SC.
The family will receive friends on Wednesday evening from 6-8pm at the home of Libby and Paisley Gordon; 2632 Sherwood Ave. in Charlotte. A graveside service will be held at 12:00 Noon, Thursday, the 20th of June 2019 in the Johnson family plot at the Historic Oakwood Cemetery in Raleigh.
In lieu of flowers memorials may be made to St. Mary’s School at 900 Hillsborough St. Raleigh, NC 27603 or Danny and Ron’s Rescue for the benefit of homeless pets at www.dannyronrescue.org.
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