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Mary Devlin

BA ’68, MAT ’71
Ashland, Oregon

Mary Devlin was born in Portland and lived there until her family moved to Bend, Ore., when she was going into eighth grade.  At Bend Senior High School she played flute, piccolo and saxophone in bands and the orchestra. During her junior year she attended a summer music camp at L&C and was in the orchestra conducted by Professor Boris Sirpo.  “We lived on campus for a week and I loved every minute of it. L&C was my top college choice because I was familiar with the beautiful campus and because I knew it was an excellent liberal arts college. I felt connected to the place,” she said.

Mary pursued her love of literature and became an English major.  “It was a great time to be an English major at L&C. The faculty members were challenging and wonderful, and I ended up with a fine liberal arts education, but no idea of what I wanted to do after graduation. I joined the M.A.T. program expecting I might like teaching high school English.” She completed that degree in 1971.

She encountered bluegrass music at a campus concert and this, along with folk music concerts, started a lifelong love of folk.  “I loved going to coffee houses to listen to jug bands, folk groups and poetry readings. Anyone remember Puddle City?”

She counts her decision to attend L&C one of the most important she’s made.  During her time at the college she developed lifelong interests and passions, made friends who became important professional colleagues, and learned how to learn.  It was the starting point for two great careers – one with libraries and one with traditional dance and music.

Mary participated in the England study-abroad program her junior year, led by Professor of History Robert Cruden.  The group also studied modern British literature, taught by Simon Gray, a lecturer from Queen Mary College who subsequently wrote the play “Butley.” For a time she lived with a Welsh-speaking family in Menai Bridge in northern Wales, and then in a hotel in London, which was around the corner from the British Museum. “I saved money by eating very cheaply and used the money to go to the theatre as often as I could,” she remembers. “My love of theatre and museum-going date from this trip.”

After graduation Mary was able to return to London through her employer, Richard Abel & Co., booksellers to academic libraries. She eventually returned to Oregon and received a Master of Library Science degree at the University of Oregon. Her professional career has been in and around libraries and information. After getting the MLS degree, she was a librarian at the University of Portland and then at Portland General Electric.  She took a detour into information technology while at PGE, and was manager of the Information Center during the time the company moved from end-user mainframe computing to personal computers. After that she joined Patrick Borunda ’68 and a colleague of his from the Wharton School and formed The Navigator Group, which provided strategic and information planning. 

Later she worked as the western states sales rep for Faxon (Mike Markwith ’67 was a colleague), a subscription services vendor to libraries, followed by a sales rep job for B.H. Blackwell which also had her traveling through the western states.

“When it was time to stop traveling all the time I joined Judy Clarke, also a friend from L&C, to do consulting and training in the broad area of communication. Many of our clients were libraries. Part of my preparation for this part of my career was studying Neurolinguistic Programming and I became a certified NLP trainer.”

She has also been the interim director of PORTALS, a library consortium, interim Director of Multnomah County Library’s Central Library, and a Medical Informatics Fellow at OHSU. Her most recent position was as Community Libraries Director for the Fort Vancouver Regional Library District in SW Washington. 

She is currently retired from libraries, but continues working as a contra dance and English country dance teacher and leader, which she’s been doing for approximately 25 years. She lives with her husband, Norman Hale, in Ashland. Her nephew, Scott Devlin, graduated from L&C in 2007.