Shouvlin's kind nature shined through

After tragic accident in February, Hinsdale woman lives on in the hearts of her loved ones

Mary Elaine Shouvlin was known by many attributes: witty, stylish, loyal, cat lover, social justice champion.

To her childhood best friend in Hinsdale, she was simply "Mares."

"We spent all of our summers together," Cyndy Travis said. "She was very smart, always willing to try things and do things."

And Mary adored her hometown, maintaining a residence in Hinsdale even as a new love named Raphael Shouvlin meant frequent trips to Florida, where he wanted to retire. She kept the house in Vero Beach even after her husband passed away in 2017 after about a year of marriage. But Mary's heart was here, according to older sister Martha Kelly, recounting the events of Feb. 7.

"She had finally decided to sell the house in Vero Beach and was driving to Hinsdale and told me she would text me from Chattanooga," Kelly said.

The text never came. Instead an Illinois state trooper arrived at 1:30 a.m. with a knock on Kelly's door in Geneva.

"He told me that there had been an automobile accident and that Mary had died at the scene," she said. "It was very tragic, very sad."

Born Mary Duncan in 1956 to parents George and Bernice, she grew up on North Bruner Street and attended Monroe School and Hinsdale Junior High School. Kelly, nine years older, remembered riding bikes together to the pool and later attending Mary's débutante ball.

"I hardly knew anyone in town by then, and they had to find me a date," Kelly said.

Travis lived on the village's east side and came into Mary's orbit at age 12.

"Both our families belonged to Hinsdale Golf Club and our dads put us in junior golf," Travis related in her remarks at Mary's memorial in March. "We became golf partners (she was better than me) and we remained friends for life."

Tennis was another of the pair's avid pursuits, and they relished the chance to serve as ball girls at a Virginia Slims women's tennis tournament in Lake Forest.

"Our tennis pro said that were enough tennis crazies to do this," Travis joked from her home in New York. "It was pretty exciting that we got to see Billie Jean King and Margaret Court and Evonne Goolagong."

After attending Hinsdale Central for the first part of her high schooling, Mary graduated from Emma Willard School in New York. She attended DePauw University in Indiana but came home to care for her ailing father before she was able to complete her studies, Kelly said.

Travis characterized herself and Mary as "party girls" in early adulthood, going down to Rush Street for the night life

"We would get dressed up," Travis said. "She always looked good. She always knew what to wear."

Kelly said Mary lived with their widowed mother, whose passing in 2001 was heart-rending for her sister. Moving into her own place on East Maple Street helped the healing.

"Hinsdale was her home," Kelly commented, noting the politically engaged Mary would invariably have CNN on the TV whenever Kelly visited.

Mary worked as a mortgage processor and underwriter in the condominium lending industry.

"They sent her everywhere because she was so good at it," Travis said.

Mary attended Travis' wedding in 1999, and the two stayed in touch by phone and email over the years and through COVID.

"We planned a reunion once traveling became realistic, but my heart hurts so much that time ran out for us," Travis said.

The accident also claimed the lives of two of the three cats who were traveling with Mary. Kelly was able to find the surviving feline a new home.

"A really nice family adopted the cat," Kelly said. A memorial was set up in Mary's name at the Hinsdale Humane Society

While going though her sister's belongings, Kelly found three gifts ­- one for each of Kelly's three children - that Mary had planned to present.

"She never got around to getting them engraved, so I got them engraved for her," Kelly said. "She loved all three of my children.

"I think she was a kind and caring person. She was always willing to help people," she continued.

Both Kelly and Travis cited Mary's distinctive laugh and sense of humor as the traits that come to mind most in their memories of her.

"I know her life mattered in how she shared her spirit and kindness to all she was friends with," Travis said. "She was a good person. She would stand by you no matter what."

Author Bio

Ken Knutson is associate editor of The Hinsdalean