Former Cordova resident Mary McBurney passed away on June 12, 2018 at Alaska Regional Hospital in Anchorage at the age of 59 after a long battle with breast cancer. She was born on Jan. 4, 1959 in Honolulu, HI. Her residency in Alaska began in 1981, living for upwards of four years in Nome, Juneau, Cordova, Homer, and Anchorage.
Mary held a bachelor’s degree in anthropology from the University of Washington, as well as a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Alaska Anchorage. She worked for the National Park Service in several capacities, starting in 1999. At various times in her career in Alaska, she also worked as the museum director in Nome, legislative staffer in Juneau, executive director of the Cordova District Fishermen United, director of the Western Alaska Fisheries Development Association, and staff member at the Bering Sea Fishermen’s Association in Anchorage.
Mary served on many boards and gave generously of her time and money to numerous charities and nonprofits. In recent years, what gave her the most satisfaction and fulfillment was serving as a volunteer for the No One Dies Alone program. She also enjoyed fishing, kayaking, skiing, music, sewing, knitting, quilting, gardening and reading literature of all types.
“Mary was a warm, adventurous, smart, talented, and fun-loving person with a zest for life,” her family said. “She touched many lives and she was beloved by her family, friends, and colleagues. Her strength, courage, grace, and optimism as she battled this terrible disease the past few years was admired by many. Mary left us way before her time. She leaves a big hole in our lives and our hearts. She will be greatly missed, but her spirit will live on for all who knew and loved her.”
She is survived by her husband Walt Wrede from Anchorage; mother Alice McBurney from Murrieta, California; sister Elaine Wilson and nieces Emily and Jennifer Wilson of San Diego, California. A Celebration of Mary’s Life will take place on Saturday, Sept. 8, in Anchorage. Further details will be available in the coming weeks.