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Writer Mary Wren of Garden City dies at 79

Undated photograph of Mary Wren of Garden City,

Undated photograph of Mary Wren of Garden City, a writer and former Adelphi University teacher. Credit: handout

Family and literature were the most important ingredients in Mary Wren's life.

The two intersected when she put her children to bed, creating precious memories. Her two sons and two daughters, dressed in pajamas, would gather around Wren as she cracked open a book.

"She really felt that the purpose of life was to read," said her eldest son, Gayden Wren, 51, entertainment editor for The New York Times Syndicate. "The rest of life was about doing what you can to have the time and resources to read."

Mary Alice Wren, longtime resident of Garden City, journalist and writing instructor at Adelphi University, died Nov. 6. She was 79.

The cause of death was Alzheimer's disease, her family said.

She was born Mary Alice Rouse in Alpena, Mich., on July 1, 1933, and raised in Lansing.

After graduating from Michigan State University in 1954, she took a job as a newspaper reporter in Kalamazoo, Mich. She and her sister Suzanne, an aspiring actress, set out for New York a year later.

Gayden Wren said his mother sent resumes to The New York Times and Time magazine, but couldn't land a reporting job at either. "The irony is that today I work for The New York Times and my brother works for Time magazine," he said.

Instead, she went on to write for Beauty Fashion magazine. In 1960, she married attorney Gayden Wren. Together they had four children, and in 1971 moved to Garden City from Manhattan's Lower East Side.

She was also an editor for Vantage Press and a freelance writer of essays, short stories and reviews for publications such as Ms., Newsday and The Village Voice.

"She would put the kids to bed and sit down at the typewriter for hours and hours," Gayden Wren said.

He said his mother, who later taught writing, was a devotee of classic literature and modern novels, as well as a fan of modern art, grand opera, 1960s rock and roll and classic country music.

Mary Wren is survived by children C. Gayden Wren III, of Steinway, N.Y., Kendall C. Wren, of Hoboken, N.J., Carrie Prystalski, of La Grange, Ill., and Lauris P. Wren, of Kew Gardens; her sister, Suzanne Rouse Stern, of Kingston, N.Y.; brother Kendall Rouse, of Madison, Wis.; and five grandchildren. She was predeceased by her husband four years ago.

A private service was held Nov. 10 at Calverton National Cemetery.

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