Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

She Led Life of Social and Volunteer Leadership

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

She Led Life of Social and Volunteer Leadership

Article excerpt

Byline: JESSIE-LYNNE KERR

Mary Agnes Towers Bulpitt lived a life that included dancing on the New York stage to her father's chagrin, walking the Great Wall of China, photographing the 1936 Olympics in Berlin for Kodak and heavy civic service both in Jacksonville and in Birmingham, England's second-largest city.

That purposeful life came to a quiet end Sunday. Mrs. Bulpitt was 101.

Funeral will be at 2 p.m. Wednesday at First Presbyterian Church, 118 E. Monroe St., followed by burial in Evergreen Cemetery.

The Jacksonville native was the daughter of a hardware store owner. She studied music at Brenau College near Atlanta, attended the Friends School in Philadelphia and moved to New York to study social sciences at Columbia University. It was while there she indulged her passion and became a dancer on Broadway -- until her father found out and packed his spirited daughter back to Jacksonville.

Mrs. Bulpitt became the belle of the ball not only in Jacksonville but in social centers of the Southeast. She was chosen queen of Ye Mystic Revelers, the city's premier social event, in 1926 and became active in the Junior League, which in those days put on stage productions in which she most often was the star.

"She was a real stepper," said nephew Charles D. Towers. "If she had been born half a century later, she probably would have been a star on the stage or in movies, but her daddy wasn't about to let her do anything like that."

Towers said his aunt instead found an outlet for her talent in local stage productions.

Because her father would not allow her back on Broadway, she went to work for him as a gift buyer, which allowed her to travel and develop her talent on the other side of the camera. Her father was able to send his daughter on trips around the world before World War II and Mrs. Bulpitt would make movies of her journeys and give lectures when she returned.

It was on one of those steamship trips in the 1930s she met the man who would become her husband, Maurice Bulpitt, scion of an English aluminum pots and pans manufacturer. …

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