Mary Whitley Curlee Beal



Belden – Mrs. Mary Whitley Curlee Beal, 82 died Thursday, June 21, 2018 while at Generations Assisted Living. She was born July 15, 1935 in Booneville, Mississippi, to John M. Curlee and Mary Glenn Whitley Curlee. Upon graduating high school, Mary earned a Bachelor’s Degree from Mississippi University for Women (MUW) and her Master’s Degree in School Counseling from Mississippi State University.

Mary taught in public schools in Florida and Virginia, as well as the Military Dependent Schools in the Azore Islands and Japan, before moving to Tyler, Texas, in 1966 where she served as a guidance counselor at Tyler Junior College (TJC) for 40 years. During her tenure, she was passionate about making a difference in the lives of her students. Many of her former students credited Mary for having a sustaining impact on their lives after leaving TJC.

While in Tyler, Mary became an active member of the Mary Tyler Chapter of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution, served as president of both the Culta Mea Club and Tyler Garden Club. She was an active member of the First Baptist Church of Tyler where she was ordained as the first female deacon in 2001. At the height of her career at TJC, Mary served in various leadership positions including that of president of the Delta Kappa Gamma Society International, an organization that promotes personal and professional growth of women educators and excellence in education. In this capacity, Mary traveled extensively within the United States and abroad. Her professional and personal travels took her to every continent with the exception of Australia and Antarctica. Mary walked the Great Wall of China.

Mary returned home to Mississippi in 2011 and enjoyed her memberships at Calvary Baptist Church and the Mary Stuart Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution. Playing Mah Jongg with friends was a weekly occurrence until just recently. She especially enjoyed keeping up with her great, great nephews Walker, Lewis, and Miles.

Mary is survived by her nephews, Mac Curlee (Martha Lewis) of Belden, MS, and Mike Curlee (Deborah) of Garland, TX; great niece, Elizabeth Russell of Tupelo; two great-nephews, John M. Curlee, IV (Jennie Bradford) of Tupelo, MS, and Russell Michael Curlee of Garland, TX; three great-great nephews, Walker Gibbs Russell, Lewis Whitley Russell, and Miles Richardson Curlee, all of Tupelo, MS; sister-in-law, Elizabeth M. Curlee of Booneville, MS; brother-in-law, Will Beal (Kathy) of San Antonio, TX. She is preceded in death by her parents, John M. Curlee and Mary Whitley Curlee and her brother, John McFerrin Curlee, Jr.

A memorial service celebrating Mary’s life will be at 3:00 p.m., Sunday, June 24, 2018 at Calvary Baptist Church with Dr. Chris DeGeorge officiating. The family will receive friends from 2:00 p.m. until service time at the church. Private burial will be in Booneville Cemetery. Holland Funeral Directors is honored to assist the family with arrangements. Condolences to the family may be e-mailed to

Honorary pallbearers will be Mac Curlee, Mike Curlee, John Curlee, Walker Russell, Lewis Russell, and Miles Curlee.

In Lieu of flowers, the family request memorials be sent in memory of Mary, to the Tupelo-Lee Humane Society, P.O. Box 1185, Tupelo, MS 38801, LeBonheur Foundation, P.O. Box 41817, Memphis, TN 38174, or Baptist Children’s Village, P.O. Box 27, Clinton, MS 39060-0027.