Mrs. Mary Keane, known to all Munronians and everyone in her district as “Miss Mary” was born Mary Hall on December 15, 1917 on the Pedro Plains, but grew up in Potsdam district. The year of her birth coincided with the change of name of the school from Potsdam to Munro College. A necessary change, as The Great War of 1914- 1918 was planned at Potsdam Palace in Germany. As a little girl she ran errands for kitchen personnel at Munro and later on she joined the staff in 1936 and for the next 50 years she never looked back nor elsewhere.
She had gained tremendous work experience by the time she became an adult and was self-taught by reading several cookery books. Her first full-time job here was a pastry chef. From there she worked her way up the culinary ladder to Acting Matron and she retired in 1986 at the age of sixty nine.
She had married Easton Keane, a farmer, and they produced two sons and one daughter, who in turn gave them four grandsons and eight granddaughters. Mr. Keane sold milk, vegetables and ground provisions to the school. Their daughter-in-law, Joy Keane, widow of their son Alvin, is now the Community Representative on the Board of Governors of Munro College. The bond between the Munro boys and Miss Mary was special. She remembered all their faces, their names, their likes and dislikes, and she looked forward at the beginning of every term to see what growth had taken place over the holidays. Upon departing these hallowed halls of Munro, the memories of Miss Mary were always with you. So much so that on return visits to Munro, a stop with Miss Mary was always part of the tour.
In an interview with the Munronian, Miss Mary’s most poignant memories of Munro were captured. She remembered the extension of the kitchen and the matron’s quarters and the construction of two huge storage water tanks, as well as the installation of the drinking water tank beside the gym, which is now the library. Among people she remembered with great pride were the fellow Hall of Fame member the Honourable Chief Justice Ira Rowe, who had the notoriety of being the first day boy. She remembers him as a poor boy walking up from Dalton and being cast into a sea of privilege. Yet according to Miss Mary he was determined and ultimately successful.
She also remembered fellow Hall of Fame inductee Sir Donald Sangster, long serving legislator and short-lived Prime Minister. She remembered the headmasters with kindness and affection, tending to see the best in each, along with Miss Hibbert, who was secretary to four of them. Miss Mary spoke of those who did well, of achievement and of finery with an aurora of reflected glory she enjoyed fulsomely, and with a sense to urge all the boys in her gastronomic care, to strive to be the best they could be. And she rejoiced when they did.
The death of her husband in 1954 was a note of sadness she sounded in the interview with the Munronian in 1968. But she remembers with gratitude the comfort she received from the people of the community. When the interviewer enquired at the end of the interview of Miss Mary if she had any regrets, her answer was “None, none at all…….if I had to do it all over again, I would not ask to be anywhere else.” When she closed her eyes permanently on the 25th of July 2004, she was sadly missed but joyfully remembered by a grateful community and institution. Those of us who have passed through her kind hands, fuelled by her cooking, and have been warmed by her cheerful smile, are truly blessed to have known her. For the aforementioned reasons among others, Mrs. Mary Keane “Miss Mary” was proudly inducted into the Munro College Old Boys Association Hall of Fame.