NORTH YARMOUTH – Mary (Henderson) Major, 84, died April 22, 2012, of complications after a stroke at home. She was born Aug. 25, 1927, at the family home in Brooks, Ga., to Hugh Henderson and Lillian Jewel (Tarpley) Henderson.
She graduated from Fayetteville High School after three years, serving as the class salutatorian. She then went on to graduate in the first co-ed class from North Georgia College, and received a master’s degree in zoology from the University of Tennessee. Mary was then employed at Oak Ridge National Lab in the genetics group, where she did genetic analysis of mice exposed to the bikini atomic tests. She also served as assistant to L.B. Russell in studies of radiation sensitive periods in pregnancy and methods of screening for mutagens. She was later employed at the University of Maine, directing the freshman zoology laboratories, retiring in 1992 after 25 years. While at graduate school she met Charles W. Major, a fellow graduate student, and were married in 1951 when he was recalled to the Navy for the Korean War. They lived in Orono until retirement, when they moved to Lamoine. In 2010, they moved to North Yarmouth to be closer to their family. She will be missed for her quick wit, relentless courtesy, and ever-present eye for the absurd, all of which helped make life enjoyable for her family and friends. She was a keen observer of backyard and seaside wildlife, and greatly enjoyed watching them throughout the four seasons.
Mary is survived by her husband of 61 years, Charles W. Major; their three children, Nancy Marie (Major) French of North Yarmouth, Elizabeth Anne (Major) Rolfe and spouse, Brian Rolfe, of Phippsburg, and Charles David Major and spouse, Susan (Hillman) Major, of Orono; sister, Anne (Henderson) Cowart of Atlanta; brother, Hugh T. Henderson of Tulsa, Okla.; many nieces and nephews; grandchildren, John Edward French of North Yarmouth, June (French) Geoffroy and spouse, Marc and great-grandson, Colby Geoffroy, of Minot, Anne Marie French and companion, William Adams and great-granddaughters, Alyssa Marie French and Ava Elizabeth Adams, of Poland, Michael Rolfe of Portland, Stephen Rolfe and spouse, Amy and great-grandson, Patrick Rolfe, of Portland, Charles "Tony" Major of Orono, and Andrew Major and companion, Kira Herrklotsch, of Berlin, Germany.
The family will host an open house to share memories of Mary noon-4 p.m. May 5 at her home, 10 Acorn Lane, North Yarmouth. Send inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that contributions be sent to Lamoine Elementary School Library, 53 Lamoine Beach Road, Lamoine, ME 04605. Arrangements are by A.T. Hutchins Funeral and Cremation Services, 660 Brighton Ave., Portland. To offer condolences and share memories with the family, please go to the obituary page at