Liriodendron tulipifera flower

The University of North Carolina
A Department of the North Carolina Botanical Garden


Collectors of the UNC Herbarium
Information compiled by Carol Ann McCormick, Asst. Curator.

Mary Williams Ward Shanor
(22 April 1916 – 19 September 2011)

NCU has cataloged half a dozen fungi collected by Mary W. Ward Shanor.  As all were collected prior to her marriage to Lee Shanor, all bear her maiden name, “Mary Ward” or “Mary W. Ward.”  As our macrofungal collection continues to be cataloged additional specimens collected by her may be found. 

Mary Ward frequently collected in Orange County and Chatham County, North Carolina. A catalog of NCU fungi, including those collected by Mary Ward, can be found at

Mary Williams Ward Shanor1

Mary Williams Ward’s spouse, Leland “Lee” Shanor, was also a mycologist whose specimens are deposited at NCU. 


Excerpts from In Memoriam:  Mary Williams Ward Shanor.  Quinn McGowen Funeral Home.  accessed on 16 January 2014. 


Mary Williams Ward was born in Wards Corner, Pender County, North Carolina, about twenty miles south of Wilmington.  She was the daughter of Algernon Daniel & Mary Catherine Ward.   


She made all A’s in the Pender County schools and played half-court women’s basketball.  She recalled years later spitting watermelon seeds, eating ice cream, riding in a Model T, and driving on the country roads when she was only 12 years old.


Passionate about learning and academics, Mary spent 2 years at Judson College in Marion, Alabama, a Baptist women’s college, then another 2 years at Women’s College at the University of North Carolina.  In 1939, she received her Master’s Degree in mycology at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill and taught at Judson College for one year following graduation. 


While at Chapel Hill, she met Ph.D. student, Leland Shanor, whom she married in June 1940.  Even though he was a Yankee from Butler, Pennsylvania, they were devoted and inseparable until his death in 1993.  Her long life encompassed three careers:  Scientist, Mother, and Realtor.


Mary and Lee lived their first years together in Washington, D.C., where Mary worked at the Department of Agriculture doing statistics research and at the Office of Scientific Research and Development at George Washington University.  When Lee joined the faculty at the University of Illinois in Urbana, Mary did natural history survey research until World War II broke out.


Mary went with Lee, who was a field grade officer, to Bara Colorado Island in Panama, where, as she recalled, “We had a big house with strings of bananas you couldn’t believe.”  While in Panama, she became pregnant with her first child, and as the war ended, she returned to Ward’s Corner to be with family amid familiar surroundings for the birth of her first son, Charles, in September 1946.


Lee returned to teaching at the University of Illinois in the fall of 1946, and Mary followed 2 months later on the train with her infant son.  In August, 1949, Mary’s second son, Paul, was born in Urbana, where the family lived until 1956.


Mary moved to Tallahassee, Florida, in 1956 and found a house a block from her older sister, Rebecca Reynolds, who was raising her family with two sons, Bill and Paul, Jr., who were close in age to Charles and Paul.  During the next decade, Mary played bridge, was a Sunday School mother at the First Presbyterian Church, was active in the [Florida State University] Women’s Club and Garden Club, and did volunteer work with the March of Dimes.


Following Charles’ graduation from Leon High School in 1964, Mary moved with Lee and Paul to Gainesville [Florida].  She completed her real estate certificate after Paul graduated from P.K. Yonge High School and joined the firm of Greene & Rowe. 


For the next 4 decades, both while her husband was chair of the Biology Department at the University of Florida and following his death in 1993, Mary was one of the Gainesville area’s most successful residential realtors.  Mary combined southern charm and a love of people with a quick mind that navigated flawlessly through the financing and legal aspects of residential real estate… She carried the love of real estate with her to the end, making referrals and passing the real estate board exam after her 95th birthday.  For relaxation, she and Lee loved to spend time at the beach in St. Augustine [Florida] and in the mountains in Highlands, North Carolina.


Mary Williams Ward Shanor is buried near her husband, Leland “Lee” Shanor, in Rockfish Presbyterian Church Cemetery in Wallace, Duplin County, North Carolina.




Ward, Mary Williams (1939)  Studies in aquatic fungi:  I.  Observations on a new species of Thraustotheca; II.  Observations on Rhizophlyctis rosea (de Bary & Woronine) Fischer.  M.A. Thesis, Department of Botany, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  Advisors:  William Chambers Coker and John N. Couch. 

Ward, Mary Williams (1939)  Observations on Rhizophlyctis rosea.  J. Elisha Mitchell Sci. Society 55(2):  353-360.

Ward, Mary Williams (1939)  Observations on a new species of Thraustotheca.  J. Elisha Mitchell Sci. Society 55(2):  346-352.



1. accessed on 15 January 2014.
2.  accessed on 16 January 2014. 


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University of North Carolina Herbarium
CB# 3280, Coker Hall
University of North Carolina
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3280
phone: (919) 962-6931
fax: (919) 962-6930

Last Updated 16 January 2014