HUDSON - Mary Lee Ong died on July 24, 2019, after a number of years of declining health. She was 84. A lifelong leader and advocate for education, community service and medical institutions, she traveled the world with her husband of 62 years, John Doyle Ong, before health issues restricted her activities.
Mary Lee Ong, known to family and her many friends as Lee, was born in Dennison, Ohio, on May 2, 1935, the daughter of H. Homer Schupp and Mary E. Chappelear Schupp. She attended local public schools and graduated as valedictorian from Dennison High School in 1953. She matriculated at Ohio University, pursuing a pre-medical curriculum. In 1957, she graduated cum laude with a major in Zoology. She was accepted to medical school at Western Reserve University, but chose not to attend.
Later that year, on July 20, 1957, she married John Ong and launched on an adventure that lasted more than six decades. Her husband transferred from the U.S. Army Reserve to the Regular Army in October 1957. During her husband’s four years of active duty, Mrs. Ong, a self-proclaimed "camp follower," taught in middle schools or high schools in Dennison, Anne Arundel County, Maryland, and in New Orleans.
In 1961, Mrs. Ong and her husband moved to Akron, where he had accepted a position with The BFGoodrich Company. Together, they would become leaders in Akron’s civic, business and philanthropic communities.
In 1965, they moved to Hudson, then a small town midway between Akron and Cleveland, which has been their home ever since. During her husband’s 36-year career at Goodrich, Mrs. Ong was an active and committed partner in many of his corporate activities and traveled with him around the world. The couple enjoyed a variety of holidays in the field, including hiking and climbing (in their younger years!), pack trips on horseback, shooting and fly fishing.
Mrs. Ong believed in the power of community service and for over five decades she dedicated her free time to support educational and medical institutions, especially her alma mater, Ohio University, where she served as chairman of the board from 2001-02.
Her service to the university began in 1987, 14 years prior. As a member of the Board of Trustees of the Ohio University Foundation for nine years (1986-1995), she served on the Foundation and Corporate Committee of the University’s Third Century Campaign, which raised over $130 million. She worked diligently on the University’s $200 million campaign, which marked the 200th Anniversary of its founding in 1804. She chaired the Foundation Board’s Finance Committee for two years. Governor George Voinovich appointed Mrs. Ong to a nine-year term on the University’s Board of Trustees (1996-2005) a period that included her serving as board chair.
Mrs. Ong was the first Chair of the Advancement Committee of the University of Akron’s College of Nursing, a division of the University’s Development Foundation. Along with her husband, she also chaired the Parents Fund of Amherst College, and together, they initiated the Parents Fund for Bowdoin College.
Mrs. Ong was for many years an active volunteer at Akron General Medical Center and served as President of both its Service League and Women’s Board. In those capacities, she also served on the Medical Center’s Foundation Board and was an ex-officio member of the Executive Board of the Board of Trustees. She began her volunteer services for the Service League in 1963 and worked with the Ohio Hospital Association on a number of legislative issues. Beginning in early 1980, she chaired the Medical Center’s gift shop for many years, helping to increase sales from $35,000 to $250,000 annually. She also chaired the Center’s Petite Café and oversaw its remodeling.
Mrs. Ong was a founding member of the Hudson Volunteer Emergency Medical Service and was an Emergency Medical Technician in the early 1970s.
While no longer a volunteer in the medical field, Mrs. Ong continued to display an informed interest in medicine and medical research. In addition to supporting educational and medical institutions, she was one of the first women to merit a Boy Scout membership card, serving as treasurer of a local troop for a number of years. She volunteered her services as a Red Cross Bloodmobile Coordinator, church schoolteacher, pianist for youth worship services, and also served on the Executive Committee of the League for Service in Hudson which supported social and fundraising activities for local schools and screening children for scoliosis and amblyopia. She served as the League’s President for three years.
In addition to her volunteer activities, Mrs. Ong for many years managed an Angus cattle farm in western Pennsylvania, which she and her husband purchased in 1982. From 2001-05, she resided in Oslo, Norway, assisting her husband with his duties as United States Ambassador to the Kingdom of Norway.
She is survived by husband, John Doyle Ong of Hudson, sons John F.H. Ong of Norwalk, Connecticut, and Richard P.B. ("Diccon") Ong (Donalee Henne), also of Hudson; and daughter, M. Katherine C. ("Katie") Ong of Cleveland. She also is survived by six grandchildren: Sophia H. Ong, currently residing in Paris; J. Finley Ong of Norwalk, Conn.; Simon L. Ong, Elliot O. Ong and F. Henry Ong, all of Hudson; and Matthew L. Landini of Washington, D.C.
Funeral and burial services will be held at St. Michael’s-in-the-Valley Episcopal Church, Rector, Pa., on Saturday, August 3, 2019, at 11:00 a.m. Christ Church, Episcopal in Hudson will hold a memorial service for Mrs. Ong on Saturday, August 24, 2019, at 11:00 a.m. A reception will follow each service. Memorial gifts may be sent to Christ Church, Episcopal (330-650-4359) in Hudson for upcoming capital projects, or to Western Reserve Academy (330-650-9700), also in Hudson, in support of the Ong Scholarship Fund. (HH, 7/31/19)