In these final days of 2015, we pause to look back at 15 who influenced Little Rock’s cultural scene who left us in 2015.
Born outside of Scott, she attended Vassar and Little Rock Junior College. After marrying banker Booker Worthen, she devoted her life to improving Little Rock. Together with Stella Boyle and George Smith, she and Booker helped found the precursor to the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra. Through its many iterations, she was a steadfast supporter and later was named a life member of the ASO Board. She was also a supporter of many other music organizations in Little Rock including the Chamber Music Society of Little Rock, of which she was a founder.
Another hallmark of her involvement was Mount Holly Cemetery Association. For over 50 years she served on the board of this body. Without notes, she could recite the history of practically every resident buried there. The tours she led with the late Peg Newton Smith were hot commodities when auctioned at fundraisers. These two loving and lifelong friends would sometimes remember things differently. They playfully prodded and needled each other as they wended and winded their way through the headstones and history regaling rapt audiences with yarns of yore, quips and quotes, plus an anecdote or two.
She also served on the Old State House Museum Board and the Pulaski County Historical Society Board. As a historian, she literally wrote the book on Trinity Episcopal Cathedral. She combined her interest in herb gardening and history with the creation of the Medicinal Garden at Historic Arkansas Museum, which is now named in her honor.
Born in 1917, up until her final days Mary Worthen continued to learn new facts, share her love of history and music, and work to cultivate the next generations of cultural enthusiasts.