Inducted: October 26, 2005
Mary Cudmore has spent her life in service to others, exemplifying all the fine qualities that have made Kent farm women full partners in the development of a prosperous and productive agriculture.
Like many of her generation, she found an outlet for her talents in Women's Institute and in 4-H leadership. She is a Life Member of the Beechwood Women's Institute; and has held all Branch, as well as District offices in more than 30 years in Women's Institute. These included the post of District President. She holds a Life Membership in the Federated Women's Institutes of Ontario.
Mrs. Cudmore was a 4-H leader for more than 10 years, leading several units each year. Dozens of girls have learned their homemaking skills through her careful and painstaking tutelage.
Her thinking has always kept pace with developments in society. She became an ardent environmentalist; and at every Institute meeting, she kept fellow members informed about recycling developments and challenges. As one friend explained: "She read, and she read – everything about recycling and the environment, and she passed on this information to Institute members."
Mrs. Cudmore was born on the River Road, Howard Township, one of three children of Lawson Barclay, a stock man, and Teresa Featherstone. She attended the Fysh School, Howard Township, for her elementary education. The Thamesville Secondary School she went on to, was, at that time, in a building that later became the Hoskins Manufacturing plant, where she worked after her marriage.
Before her marriage, she was employed at the Connelly Egg Grading Station in Thamesville.
Mrs. Cudmore was married in February, 1947 to Stewart Cudmore at the Minister's home in Thamesville and threw herself, whole-heartedly, into work in the home, on the farm, and in the community. Her home, on the River Road, Howard Township, lacked many of the amenities taken for granted today. For some years, there was no hydro or indoor plumbing, and the house was heated with a wood stove.
The Cudmores had a mixed farming operation. Before the days of marketing boards, the Cudmores had 10 cows, and made their own butter, and sold chickens and eggs. She was the typical hard-working farmer's wife of that time, milking, preparing for the threshing crew, canning, sewing, knitting and crocheting, baking for her family and friends and for bake sales, working at any job that needed to be done.
This was not limited to work on the Cudmore farm, but anywhere she could help. She was, in the words of those who know her, "the best neighbour anyone could have." Her "love boxes", containing home cooking, canning and small gifts, went to grateful recipients in her neighbourhood and far beyond.
Mrs. Cudmore loved Women's Institute, and its members loved her. She organized Institute and 4-H displays for the Ridgetown Fair; and helped with the Fair hospitality booth.
When she became a cook at Clayton Nursing Home in Thamesville, she had a wonderful new outlet for her kindness. She not only cooked, but she spent many hours visiting the residents, and surprising them with little gifts. One friend recalled, "She knew everyone in the Nursing Home as a personal friend!"
Mrs. Cudmore's experience there gave her insight into what was needed by the elderly, and she knit and crocheted lap afghans for residents in a number of nursing homes. One of her favourite efforts was knitting bonnets for premature babies. Her neighbours and friends are lavish in their praise for her. One said, "Whatever she had, she shared. She was very big-hearted!"
Now, living at the Residence on the Thames, she still knits baby outfits for the Chatham Goodfellows.
Her husband died in 1987, and two years later, Mrs. Cudmore moved to an apartment on Michener Road in Chatham. Since 2002, she has lived at the Residence, where she is happy and busy.
The Cudmores had five children: daughters Kathleen (Hank) Bardoel, Chatham; Susan (Rob) Wales, Strathroy; Betty (Bev) Tuck, Medicine Hat, Alberta; and Audrey (Jim) Stringle, London. A son, Jim (Liz) Cudmore, Leamington, a loved and respected Leamington Police Officer, died earlier this year at the age of 57. There are six grandchildren and four great grandchildren.
Mrs. Cudmore keeps in touch with the world around her by reading: Chatham, Ridgetown, and Thamesville papers, and the Readers' Digest and other publications. She reads the Western Producer for its farming news.
Friends have described her as a person who has always wanted to do a good job in anything she has tackled. As one friend said, "She is an enthusiastic person. If she started a job, she threw herself into it, and made sure that she did it, and did it well."