Mary F. Lopez obituary photo
 
In Memory of

Mary F. Lopez

October 5, 1938 - August 8, 2017

Obituary


Mary Frances Lopez was born on October 5, 1938, the only daughter of Frank G. Lopez and Mary Ojeda. Mary had one younger brother, Frank. The Lopez family lived in Houston, TX, in the Magnolia Park area in Houston, near the Houston Ship Channel in eastern Harris County. At the time of her death on August 8, 2017, Mary had been a resident of League City, TX, for many years. Mary is survived by her brother Frank, her fiancé Michael Griffin, her twin nieces Kelsey Marie and Meredith Rae Lopez, her godson Alex Cabrera, and...

Mary Frances Lopez was born on October 5, 1938, the only daughter of Frank G. Lopez and Mary Ojeda. Mary had one younger brother, Frank. The Lopez family lived in Houston, TX, in the Magnolia Park area in Houston, near the Houston Ship Channel in eastern Harris County. At the time of her death on August 8, 2017, Mary had been a resident of League City, TX, for many years. Mary is survived by her brother Frank, her fiancé Michael Griffin, her twin nieces Kelsey Marie and Meredith Rae Lopez, her godson Alex Cabrera, and her large, extended Lopez and Ojeda families. Mary was a 1957 graduate of Milby High School (MHS) in Houston, where she was active in the MHS Coed Cadets Drill Team. Mary gained her secretarial skills at MHS, as well as in business school, which qualified her to become a clerk-stenographer (which meant she took shorthand) and eventually executive secretary and an integral part of NASA and the human space flight program. Mary became a Federal civil servant in January 1958 at the Veteran's Administration Hospital. In April 1963 she transferred to NASA Manned Spacecraft Center (now Johnson Space Center), which at that time was located "somewhere" on I-45 South. Mary was assigned to the Computation and Data Reduction Division as a clerk-stenographer and eventually was promoted in various organizations, including as secretary to the Chief of the Biomedical Technology Division, to the Director of Flight Operations, and to the Deputy Director of the Johnson Space Center (JSC). Mary began her career at JSC during the first human space flight project, Project Mercury, and worked at JSC through all of the programs, Gemini, Apollo, Apollo-Soyuz Test Project, Skylab, Shuttle, and the International Space Station. Mary retired in 2003 as Executive Secretary to Center Director George W. S. Abbey. Mary was an exemplary secretary, she enjoyed her role as assistant to her many executives, and was the "lion at the door" when it came to doing her job and ensuring that she knew what was critical to her boss and not so critical, especially as secretary to the JSC Center Director. Mary was an efficient office manager, always in tune with what meeting was next and always friendly if you overstayed your time! Mary did not care what grade or position the visitor had, she treated everyone as if they were a special visitor. It was easier that way, since at the levels where she worked, she could expect to greet a U.S. President, a foreign dignitary, an astronaut, or even stars like Ron Howard and Tom Hanks when they were at JSC filming the movie Apollo 13, or the many special visitors that JSC would invite, from students to professional scientists and engineers and world leaders. Mary was a member of the NASA JSC administrative team, the Sixties Chicks, the women behind the scenes who supported the early generations of human space flight and were the "wind beneath the wings" of the rocket scientists who would get humans to the moon and back! During her JSC career, Mary received many awards, including the JSC Outstanding Secretary Award, the coveted Snoopy Award, and the NASA Exceptional Service Medal. After her retirement from NASA, Mary worked at The Boeing Company, where she continued to work as an executive secretary and soon retired again. Mary remained the coordinator for the team of judges at the Annual JSC Flight Operations Division (FOD) Chili Cook Off, which she did for many years and loved doing until 2016 when she became ill and thought she was just taking a little break from that activity. She was also campaign manager for Michael Griffin, her fiancé, who ran for Houston City Council, with her as his faithful supporter. She volunteered at the St. Mary's Catholic Church food pantry, was President of the Reynolds Street Coalition, was a member of the Friends of FCOD group, was a member of the Irish 100 Club, which coordinates the annual St. Patrick's Day Parade in Houston and in which Mary was a judge for the St. Patrick's Parade Queen competition, and was a member of the MHS Hispanic Alumni Association where, together with brother Frank, they sponsored the MHS Endowment for Texas A&M University Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) Students.

A tree will be planted at NASA JSC in memory of our friend and colleague Mary Frances Lopez. Donations for the cost of the tree can be made payable to and sent to: Estella H. Gillette, 3403 Sonora Meadow Lane, Houston, TX 77059. The tree planting date and memorial ceremony will be announced at a later date.

A visitation for Mary will be held Friday, August 11, 2017 from 4:30pm to 7:00pm with a rosary beginning at 6:00 pm at Forest Park Lawndale Funeral Home located at 6900 Lawndale Street, Houston, Texas, 77023. The family will be hosting a Memorial Gathering, Friday, August 11, from 7:00pm to 10:00 pm at Villa Capri Restaurant located at 3713 Nasa Parkway, Seabrook, Texas, 77586. A Funeral Mass will be held on Saturday, August 12, 2017, beginning at 11:30am at St. Mary's Catholic Church located at 1612 E Walker, League City, Texas 77573. The Interment will follow with a procession from the church to Forest Park Lawndale Cemetery located at 6900 Lawndale Street, Houston, Texas, 77023. The family would like to invite friends to join them after the interment in Holland Hall for a light lunch reception inside the Forest Park Lawndale Funeral Home.