Reception to follow in the All Saints Center, Room 100.
Mary Howfield (formerly Mary H. Kaufmann) passed away peacefully on June 19, 2023. Mary was born in Hertfordshire, England on August 1, 1928. She lived nearly 95 vibrant and vivacious years. At 18, Mary left England sailing to America on the cruise ship that bore her name – the Queen Mary. She met and married J. Eugene Kaufmann Jr. and together they were very involved in the arts community over many decades in South Carolina, including Florence, Greenville, Greenwood and Columbia.
While she performed in TV, radio, and movies, the theatre was the domain where she fulfilled her passion for the dramatic arts. Over her life, Mary starred in many productions, including “My Fair Lady” in 1964, helping the Greenville Little Theater exceed its fundraising goals for the new building. She was presented with a Greenville Little Theatre Oscar in 1968 for her lead role in “Blithe Spirit”. She also played Aurelia in “The Madwoman of Chaillot. While in Greenwood, Mary continued her stagecraft, including starring as “Mame” in two separate productions with the Greenwood Community Theatre which supported the Festival of Flowers. In addition, she performed in “The Glass Menagerie”, “The Lion in Winter” and “The Visit”. Mary also served on the board for the Crescent Community Club and in the Rotary Civic Chorale in Greenville.
Gifted with a beautiful voice and grace, Mary performed on theatre stages as well as in choral groups in many churches throughout her life. A devout Christian, Mary wrote and performed many of her hymns. She was a former member of many churches and performed in several church choirs: Trinity Lutheran Church in Greenville, Lutheran Church of Our Savior in Greenville, First Baptist Church in Greenwood, Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Columbia and most recently a member of Christ Church Episcopal in Greenville. She also attended First Presbyterian Church of Greenville regularly and was grateful for her church family there. As she neared the end of her life, she was strengthened by her faith and supported by the hymns she would play and sing each day.
Mary also enjoyed creative writing and poetry. She used her poetry to convey her true feelings whether solemn or happy. She authored, digitally illustrated, and published a moving book of poetry in her late 70s early 80s. Mary also authored and published a lyric parody book “My Fair Old Lady”, demonstrating her love of humor and wit regarding growing old. This book includes illustrations by her former artist husband of 50 years J. Eugene Kaufmann, Jr.
In addition to being an accomplished actress, singer, dancer, and writer, she was also an entrepreneur, having launched her own successful realty company in Greenville in the early 1970s. She later created and managed several art galleries and other ventures. Mary enjoyed and relished the chance to compete in life, whether playing bridge, tennis, chess, backgammon and then Uno in her 90s. She even played online bridge penned as Googling Granny and Howangelic in her early 80s organizing online celebrity bridge tournaments.
Mary is survived by her three children: Janet Kaufmann Riksen, Julian Kaufmann III and Mary Kaufmann Green, her nine grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. With her legacy of acting, poetry and videos, Mary has left her family more than “a spoonful of sugar” to help her family remember and share her legacy.
The family plans to celebrate Mary’s life on Monday, July 31, 2023 at 2:00 pm at Christ Church Episcopal in Greenville, SC, immediately followed by a reception.
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