Remembering Mary

Flavia PotenzaBy Flavia Potenza

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Remembering Mary
THE “Memory Table” was abundant with photos from Mary’s childhood, old copies of the Topanga Messenger, and the above photo of her and her beloved second husband, Bill Rhodes. Included on the table were photos of the late Colin Penno, editor of the newspaper for 20 years, and Mary’s sister-in-law Patty Colvig (center), who passed September 16.
The day seemed full of itself, a fiesta of California sunshine and gentle breezes that set the scene for Mary Colvig’s memorial on Saturday, September 25, at the home of DawnRhodes. As longtime friends and Topanga Messenger colleagues reunited, tears flowed as much as the margaritas. The “Colvig Kids,” as they called themselves—“Little” Mary, Christina, and their brother, Christopher—fulfilled their mother’s wish that everyone dress in bright colors and come to party. It seems the weather received her orders, too. The gathering was one of welcoming, discovery, abundance, generosity, a fiesta with tacos and margaritas, with a DJ orchestrating selections from Mary’s musical playlist throughout the day, all in the spirit of who Mary was and will always remain. Daughters Mary and Christina wore crowns of flowers to honor their mother’s love of her garden. Among the family’s gifts to their guests were grandaughter Georgia playing the ukelele as she sang “Over the Rainbow.” Granddaughter Fiona read a tribute to Nana of love and loss. Mary, Christina and Chris recounted their mother’s legacy to them, her dedication to her family, and how, in the last few days, Mary’s determination to finish her clients’ bookkeeping. There was communal laughter of recognition by all who were ever at the receiving end of the “Mary Look” when she was displeased. Beneath the soft-spoken demeanor was a steely will and a clear mind that met and overcame much adversity in her life. Her family was everything to her. Finally, the strains of “My Way,” brought most of us to tears that needed to be shed. There was another generous gesture typical of Mary and carried forward by her children. On the “Memory Table” replete with photos and highlights from Mary’s life, were tributes to Colin Penno, editor of the Topanga Messenger for 20 years, who passed suddenly in June; and Patty Colvig, Mary’s sister-in-law, who passed on September 16 (see “Passages,”Page 13). Each of their photos was adorned with a message, “In Loving Memory.” The afternoon was filled with great joy at meeting old friends (yes, we are older now), and new; with deep hugs, tears, stories, and “Remember whens….” Above all, it was Remembering Mary. The great legacy she left to her children and grandchildren, her friends, colleagues...there aren’t enough glowing adjectives to describe how many and how deeply she affected so many lives. Mary must have been pleased.
Archival photo of Messenger crew at the Topanga Swap Meet in early ’70s. Photo (l-r): Emily Karnes, Production (seated); Printer Sid Francis (standing); to his right, Editor Flavia Potenza (hidden) and her son in foreground.
Flavia Potenza

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October 1, 2021