Martine Jeanine Gary (née Wargny), 72, died peacefully at her home in Riverside in the early morning of June 10, 2018 after a two-year battle with liver cancer.
Born in eastern France just after World War II, Ms. Gary’s father worked for the post-war French government, including in the Foreign Service, and moved with his family to several cities during his career.
While her family lived in Burgundy, France, Ms. Gary studied English literature, was an American Field Service exchange student in the U.S., and completed her first graduate degree while studying in Sussex University, England.
At that time, she also met her husband-to-be on a beach in a small Spanish fishing village and married him a few years later. In the U.S., the couple initially lived in Colorado where she continued her graduate studies in comparative literature and earning her terminal degree.
They then moved among several major North American cities following family opportunities and having two sons. Their final move was to the Chicago area in the mid-1980s where they settled in Riverside with the intent of providing a long-term, stable environment for their children’s school years.
Ms. Gary became active as a youth soccer coach but developed a particularly strong interest in improving and expanding a “picture lady” program for parental cultural volunteers at her children’s school.
That work drew her to the Art Institute of Chicago (AIC) where she entered the volunteer docent program. During her 25 years at the AIC, she gave hundreds of tours to school children, served as a Docent Council representative, and then president for several terms. She also became an adult public tour docent where she occasionally provided special-request tours in French.
Within the AIC docent program, she was known for her penetrating research into and observations of art works, artists, the social and art world environment surrounding them, for drawing similarities and contrasts among works and movements, and for sharing her ideas and research with other docents, including through a docent website that she helped to establish.
Ms. Gary leaves behind her husband of nearly 50 years, Dennis; her brother, Jean-François Wargny and two sons with families: Stefan married to Cori Princell and grandchildren Felix and Julia, and Jean-Pierre married to Kiera Ormut-Fleishmann with grandchildren Marlo and Lola.
A memorial service will be held at the Riverside Public Library, 1 Burling Road, on Sunday, July 8 from 1 to 3 p.m.
Donations may be made in her name to the Riverside Public Library Lower Level Renovation Project, the American Cancer Society, and/or the Art Institute of Chicago.
Ivins/Moravecek Funeral Home, Riverside, handled arrangements.