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Mary Bucknam
A memorial service is planned for 11 a.m. Thursday at Trinity United Presbyterian Church, 1600 Carver Road, Modesto for Mary Olivia Caswell Bucknam, 98, of Modesto. She died May 17, 2012.

Born Feb. 6, 1914 on a ranch west of Ceres, Mary was the second of the four children of Charles Henry and Helen Cross Caswell, who came to California shortly after 1900. As a member of Stanislaus County pioneer family, Mary participated in the donation of land for Caswell Memorial State Park in memory of her grandfather, Thomas, father, Henry, and uncle, Wallace Caswell.

With her brother, Earl, and sisters, Ruth and Edith, she walked two miles to Fairview, a two-room country school. Mary graduated from Modesto High School, and attended Modesto Junior College and San Jose Normal School (now State University), graduating in 1936 with honors in education. She taught the four lower grades at Central School near Ceres before moving to Modesto City Schools, where she eventually became president of Modesto Teachers Association. During World War II, she taught in San Bernardino, where she met husband William Nelson Bucknam II of New York, a sergeant in the Air Transport Command. Bill served in the Pacific Theatre of World War II. Mary and Bill were married June 22, 1946, at the Caswell family ranch after his return.

On the Bucknam ranch in north Ceres, where she spent 14 years, they raised sons William Nelson III and Charles Henry. She sold the Ceres ranch to purchase a large hunting and fishing lodge on the Klamath River in Siskiyou County which she helped operate for six years until a fire destroyed it. Mrs. Bucknam returned to Modesto after Bill died and resumed teaching. She became an artist, focussing on landscapes. After she retired from teaching in Riverbank in 1976, Mary traveled extensively around the world, painting the lands and lives of the people, wherever she went.

Mary was active in Trinity United Presbyterian, Central California Art Association, Ceres Historical Society, American Association of University Women, Tuolumne River Lodge, and Delta Kappa Gamma. She donated many of her paintings to raise funds for a variety of organizations, and volunteered her talents to teach youngsters how to paint.

Mrs. Bucknam's awards included the 1992 Soroptimist International's "Woman of Distinction" and she was an Outstanding Woman of Stanislaus County in 1994. After a series of successful shows as The Three Sisters, Mary, Ruth, and Edith were given the Stanislaus Arts Council's 2000 Excellence in Visual Arts award.

She leaves behind sons, Bill Bucknam of Modesto, and Charles Bucknam of Denver, Colo.; her grandchildren, Philippe, Stephanie, Alexis, Mari and Dan; and her great-grandchildren, Caswell, Elijah and John Gabriel. She was predeceased by her husband, Bill, brother Earl Caswell, Ruth Jorgensen, and Edith.

Remembrances may be sent to: Salvation Army, 625 I Street, Modesto, CA 95354; Central California Art Association, 1015 "J" Street, Modesto CA 95354; Trinity United Presbyterian Church; or to Community Hospice, 4368 Spyres Way, Modesto, CA 95356.

-Ceres Courier/ May 30, 2012