Mary was born July 11, 1939, to Bernard Fife and Idona Stewart Leigh in Cedar City Utah where she developed a deep love and appreciation of all nature while traveling with her father and visiting her uncle Kumen’s ranch. Before attending BYU, Mary worked at the North rim of the Grand Canyon cleaning cabins and helping in the dining room at the lodge. While there she had the opportunity to hike to the bottom of the canyon and then up to the south rim and back; stay overnight in one of the ranger’s cabins at the bottom. She also had the opportunity to work at Zion National Park.
After Mary graduated from BYU in 1962, she was a registered Medical Technologist from 1962-1981 which gave her the opportunity to work for the LDS Hospital Medical Laboratories, Primary Children’s Hospital and then later with the Epizoology lab at the University of Utah. While working at the U of UT lab, she worked on a process that required red blood cells from large, male barnyard geese. They had hired ‘dollar boys’ to catch and hold the geese but they were afraid of the geese so Mary ending up catching them herself and became known as the Goose Woman with Whip.
Around 1964, Mary met a handsome engineering student named Kenneth Talbot at a fireside greeting and playing the organ while visiting her friend Joan. They married eight months later in August 1964 in the Salt Lake Temple. Three years later, their first daughter Jeannette was born in January 1967.
In 1969, Kenneth accepted a position in Sunnyvale, California, and two weeks before graduation, they moved out to look for a house to rent. They returned to Utah for the graduation ceremony, but Mary ended up needing emergency surgery while Kenneth returned to CA with their pet dog. Mom and Jeannette stayed with her brother Stewart while she recuperated and by the time she returned to CA, the moving van had just delivered all of their boxes!
In May 1971 while Kenneth was on business travel in Scotland, their second daughter was born, so their good friend (and later family dentist) Don Call arrived at two in the morning in a three-piece suit to take Mary to the hospital.
In 1981, once her daughters were further along in school, Mary decided to return to school to obtain her master’s in applied microbiology from San Jose State University. Two of her professors were so impressed with her work and that she already knew how to work the equipment that they asked her to TA for them and then eventually teach the immunology labs at San Jose State. After graduation, she continued teaching labs at SJ State along with opportunities to teach at two of the local junior colleges until she retired.
During Mary’s free time, her life was filled with home, her daughters, many pets, travel, running science fairs, gardening, and sewing, especially quilting. Gardening was a close second to quilting with a large front and back yard filled with fruit trees, flowers, and garden boxes. What came first was quilting handed down through multiple generations before her. Mary hand quilted until she was unable to, but this did not stop her from quilting. She then dedicated her time to making and donating hundreds of children’s quilts for countless friends and Project Linus, an organization that provides handmade blankets to children 0-18 in the United States who are seriously ill, traumatized, or otherwise in need.
In 2022 they moved to the Sagewood retirement facility in South Jordan, Utah to be closer to extended family. They made many friends in this new community.
Mary passed away at 10 p.m. on 27 Dec 2023 at Sagewood retirement Facility due to complications of Parkinson’s disease, including dementia.
Mary is survived by her loving husband Kenneth Talbot, and their daughters Jeannette Hovermale (Chris) and Jane Talbot.; and granddaughters Jessica and Sarah Hovermale. She is preceded in death by her parents, Bernard and Idona Leigh and siblings: Stewart Leigh, Forest Leigh, Elaine Jordan, and George Leigh.
Funeral Services will be held Wednesday, January 3, 2024, at 11:00 a.m. at Lindquist’s Layton Mortuary, 1867 N. Fairfield Road, Layton, Utah. Friends may visit with family Wednesday from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. at the mortuary prior to the service at the mortuary.
Interment, Lindquist’s Memorial Park at Layton, Layton, Utah.