On Monday, May 31, 2021, Mary Lou Land, beloved wife, mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother passed away peacefully in her home in Destin, FL, at the age of 87.
Mary Lou was born on June 15, 1933 in Suwannee County, Florida. She earned a B.S. in Elementary Education from the University of Florida. She and her husband of 56 years, Erwin Land, were married in May of 1965, in the Valdosta, GA Methodist Church. Afterwards, the couple moved to Okaloosa County, where she taught for a combined 30 years at Annette P. Edwins and Elliott Point Elementary. As a teacher, students flourished under her care. Mary Lou loved children and offered her students the same generosity, respect, and love that she showed to every member of her own family. She held a lifelong love for all things beautiful. She was both a talented musician, playing piano and organ in the church from a very young age, and an artist, whose gifts took flight after her sister, Jeannette, passed away. Mary Lou began finishing her artist sister's work, creating stunning oil portraits. After her retirement, Mary Lou loved to spend time enjoying life with her closest friends, “the girls”. Above all, she was known for her unconditional love and presence. Her advice was gentle, understanding and loaded with wisdom and love, and she had a remarkable ability to inspire people to be the best, most honest versions of themselves.
Mary Lou is survived by her husband, Erwin Land; children, Carol Ann Whidden, Janet (Louis) Vagias, and Alison McDowell; grandchildren, Zach Vagias, Jill (Javier) Benites, Jann (Jeff) Turpin, Dylan (Mary) McDowell, Polly McDowell, great-grandchildren Maya Benites, Max Benites, and Ashley Turpin;,along with many nieces and nephews.
Mary Lou is preceded in death by her parents, Leo and Ruby Land; siblings, Sybil LeFevre, Jeannette Land and Harold Land; son-in-law, Dave Whidden; and niece, Martha Lynn Land.
A memorial service will be held on Wednesday, June 16, 2021 at 1:00pm at First Baptist Church, 126 Harbeson Ave SE, Fort Walton Beach, FL. 32548.
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