Mary Cox Gage Dunham
Mary Cox Gage Dunham passed away Monday, June 25th, after a full and happy life. She is survived by an adoring family; husband Milton Dunham, sons Robert Headley Gage and wife Amy of Morganton, N.C., William Frank Gage and wife Hannah of Wilmington, and Dr. Lawrence English Gage and wife Robyn of Rochester, N.Y., and eight grandchildren.
Also surviving are her beloved siblings, Teddy Cox Murray and husband Malcolm of Wilmington, brothers, Dr. Headley Morris Cox Jr. and wife Liz Smith, of Clemson, S.C., and John Tomlinson Cox of Orlando, Fla.

Mary, familiarly known as Pinkie, was born February 16th, 1923, in Mt. Olive, N.C., the daughter of Headley Morris and Frank English Cox. Her father was a founder of the Mt. Olive Pickle Company and its first president; her mother was a homemaker and area event reporter for the News and Observer.

Pinkie was educated in the Mt. Olive public schools and graduated in 1944 from Women's College, Greensboro, with a Bachelors Degree in Fine Arts. Upon graduation, Pinkie completed U.S. Naval Training School at Smith College in Northhampton, Massachusetts, and was commissioned as an Ensign in the United States Navy, WAVES unit. She served in WWII at the Navy Department in Washington, D.C. Her detail was classified, involving decoded enemy transmissions from the Pacific Theater. She was honorably discharged in 1946.

Pinkie married Robert MacCornack Gage in 1946 and raised her family in New York and New Jersey. During this time she became an accomplished watercolorist and earned a Master's Degree in Literature from Farleigh Dickinson University.

Pinkie moved to Wilmington in 1973, following divorce, and pursued a career in real estate for twenty years, mostly with Intracoastal Realty. In addition, she was a committed volunteer for Cape Fear Literacy, teaching adults to read. A lifelong environmentalist, Pinkie was an early supporter of the efforts to save Masonboro Island.

Pinkie married Milton Dunham, retired chemical engineer, in 1992. Milton was her devoted husband and, in her last years, caregiver. She was a member of The Little Chapel on the Boardwalk for thirty-four years, and the Carolina Yacht Club. Pinkie nurtured her three sons without cease, from their first day and into adulthood, and was proud of their respective careers in law, architecture, and medicine. Pinkie's life will be remembered, in part, because of her accomplishments, but mainly because of the grace and kindness she brought to everyone she met and every thing she did.

A memorial service to celebrate her life will be held at The Little Chapel on the Boardwalk, Saturday, June 30th, at 11 a.m. The family will receive friends immediately following the service at the church. Private interment will be in Mt. Olive. Memorials may be sent to the North Carolina Coastal Land Trust, 131 Racine Dr., Suite 101, Wilmington, N.C. 28403.

Published in the Star-News on 6/27/2007.