Mary Lil celebrates 100 at Vicar’s Landing


Born on Sept. 26, 1915, Mary Lil McClure appeared on the front page of the Mexico, Missouri Weekly Ledger at the age of one month when she took first place in the town’s Beautiful Baby Contest. Still beautiful at age 100, McClure celebrated her centennial birthday on the 26th with more than 100 guests in the auditorium at Vicar’s Landing, including 60 family members.

“We have family here from as far away as Hong Kong,” said McClure’s daughter, Mary Hughes Kendrick of Columbus, Indiana. “They came from Dallas, Texas; Portland, Oregon; Geneva, New York; L.A.; San Francisco and Napa Valley, California; Chicago, Illinois; Missouri and North Carolina — and some from St. Augustine, too.”

The guest of honor, Mary Lil McClure was joined at her table by her oldest grandson, Dr. David Kendrick, his wife, Dr. Nan Crystal Arens, and their daughters, Laurel, 11, and Rose, 9.

“David and Nan are both Harvard Ph.D’s,” bragged the proud grandmother, adding that they are Professors of Geo-Science at Hobart and William Smith Colleges near Geneva, New York.

A retired elementary school teacher, mother, grandmother and great-grandmother, Mary Lil McClure is the widow of the late William J. McClure, President of The Florida School for the Deaf and Blind. She has been a resident of Vicar’s Landing since 1990, and a member of Ponte Vedra United Methodist Church for 13 years.

Pastor Jeff Bennett of Ponte Vedra United Methodist Church and his wife, Jill, were in attendance at the party on Saturday.

“Mary Lil is a very sharp lady who loves the church and loves Christ,” said Bennett, who once noted that McClure was a good theological conversation partner. “She’s much more theologically liberal than I am and will, politely of course, let me know when she thinks I’m a bit off base in one of my sermons.”

Raising a champagne toast to his beloved grandmother, Benjamin McClure of Napa Valley, California described her as a “Methodist Democrat” who is inspiring and amazing. He said that a typical dinner conversation with her can range from FDR to Facebook, from prohibition to the pros and cons of scotch versus fine wine (Napa Valley, of course), and beyond.

“She still plays bridge and she can talk current events with the best of us,” he said.

“I’m amazed at all this,” said McClure. “I’ve lived at Vicar’s longer than anyone and I’ve seen dear friends come and go. This is really a special place and I’m glad to be here.”