Author and Community Advocate Mary Gentry Shares Her Wit, Wisdom and Experience

Mary Gentry and Mimi Williams pose for a photo
Mary Gentry (left) loves to work with local artist Mimi Williams (right). Williams provides the cover art from her carefully created etchings. Photo courtesy: Mary Gentry
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People give back in different ways. The extra-special among us generously donate their time, talents and the wisdom gained from unique life experiences. Mary Gentry is an author and attorney who has spent many years working on local boards and civic organizations helping shape and strengthen our community. She recently released her latest book “The Best is Yet to Be,” a series of essays that deal with change, grief, aging, humanity, family and hope for the future.

Siamese cat on a table with a bunch of Mary Gentry's books on it as well as postcards
Mary Gentry is a prolific local attorney, author, community board member and caring heart who has just released her third book. Photo credit: Mary Gentry

Essayist Mary Gentry Chronicles the Often-Unexpected Joys of Daily Life

Gentry’s first two books, “Too Far from the Tree” and “Quite Contrary,” tell personal stories of life that ring true for all of us. Parenting – both being and having parents – education, career, chores and children. Walking dogs, cleaning the house and family heirlooms all jostle for center stage along the way.

“The Best is Yet to Be” focuses on life’s many changes. Our struggles and joys of aging, conversations with loved ones, the legacy we leave behind and hopes for the future. “My essays have universality,” says Gentry. “Shared experiences bring us together and I hope their appeal is far-reaching.”

a group of people sit in chairs at Orca's books, with Mary Gentry sitting in front of them, reading
Gentry does readings at local shops like Orca Books (pictured) and Browsers’ Book Shop. Photo courtesy: Mary Gentry

She has done readings near her home at Boston Harbor Marina’s storefront as well as downtown Olympia’s Browsers’ Book Shop, Orca Books and The Bungalow. Her books can be found at any of these local businesses, as well as at Drees and Panowicz Jewelers. Gentry also hosts and attends events with local professional groups, shops, book-clubs and leadership organizations like Altrusa International Foundation.

Her work is a consistent, fan-favorite draw. So much so that a former student from when she taught at Tumwater High School in the 1960s, who is now in their 70s, recently drove from Vancouver, Washington, to attend a reading.

Gentry Offers a Lifetime of Service on Civic and Community Boards

When not writing, Gentry has a tremendous passion for service. She retired from her law practice a few years ago but has long believed in working locally to improve our community. Over the years she says she’s achieved the volunteer work trifecta: serving on hospital, education and financial boards, including Olympia Federal Savings.

Gentry had a self-described “rough and tumble bank history” before finding OlyFed. But after becoming a happy customer and later term-limiting out from several other Boards of Directors, she was approached to be on their Board. “That resonated,” she explains, “because they are a financial institution who are a huge philanthropic part of the community. Their Board and executive team embrace these values and the passions of their employees. They don’t just write a check but actually attend and support events.”

“Mary has been a member of the OlyFed family for decades and her contributions to both the bank and our community are tremendous,” shares OlyFed’s Chief Strategy and Marketing Officer Ryan Betz. “She cares deeply about the health and well-being of the people and places that make Olympia such a wonderful spot to call home.”

“Mary is an incredibly talented writer,” continues Betz, “and it is evident through her stories. Not only is she wise, thoughtful and has a great sense of humor, she is creative, strong, resilient and courageous, which makes her a great leader.  All these admirable attributes not only make the stories she tells better, but they also make the organizations she’s involved with, like OlyFed, more meaningful in terms of the impact and positive influence we have in people’s lives.”

Mary Gentry is Building for a Healthy, Happy, Well-Read Future

Aside from OlyFed, Gentry has worked with the Les Bailey Writers Series at Saint Martin’s University and Nisqually Land Trust, just to name a couple. She initially joined the Saint Martin’s board, where she served for nearly 25 years, embodying her own unique trifecta at the time: an alumnus, a woman – this was many years ago when such things were rare – and pregnant. She now helps with the annual Writers Series and the talented guests they bring with the program.

Working with the Nisqually Land Trust “was a really wonderful experience for me,” Gentry says. For her recent 80th birthday, she organized a fundraiser called “Roots in the Ground,” also chosen for an OlyFed Two Cent Campaign. Through this event, family, friends and fans raised money then gathered to plant indigenous species of native trees, shrubs and wildflowers in Land Trust greenspaces. More than 200 volunteers planted over 3,000 new roots to enhance shoreline habitat.

a group of people outside with shovels, pose for a photo with papers that spell out 'Happy 80th Birthday Mary!'
For Gentry’s recent 80th birthday, she rallied family, friends and fans for Roots in the Ground. This fundraiser planted native trees, shrubs and wildflowers on Nisqually Land Trust shoreline habitat. Photo courtesy: Mary Gentry

As to writing, she’s always pondering ideas for the next book. “Writing helps explain things to yourself and work through life and ideas,” says Gentry.

Follow her literary journey, buy a copy of her work, meet the artist behind her stunning cover designs, and find upcoming author talks on the Mary Gentry website. There you can request an appearance at your book party, follow her on Facebook and Instagram and track new books hot off the presses because, as Gentry tells us, the best is yet to be.

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