September 8, 1947 – December 19, 2016
Emerald O'Leary (aka Mary Anderson) of San Francisco, formerly of Ireland and London, passed away December 19 at Laguna Honda Hospice after a more than five-year battle with metastatic cancer of the breast and bone. O'Leary was an accomplished artist, actor, poet, writer, and executive assistant during her 28 years in San Francisco.
Born September 8, 1947 in London to Irish-born Molly O'Leary and an Irishman named Walsh who had another family, her mother scrambled to conceal that she was "illegitimate" as they said at the time (or more commonly, "a bastard"), by calling her Mary Anderson. Molly O'Leary then changed her own name to Anderson as to appear married. As a child she lived with her mother, a civil servant, in Brixton until she was 12, when they moved to Dublin. In high school Mary got a job as a reporter at the Irish Independent, and continued to work as a journalist off and on for much of her life.
In 1970 she was one of 12 women to found the Irish Women's Liberation Movement, and one of two women whose legal action forced the Irish government to change the law to include women on juries. She was also very involved in the push to make contraception legal for women in Ireland.
In her 30s she left Ireland to join a traveling theater troupe in Fort Worth, Texas. There she took the stage name Emerald O'Leary and made it legal and permanent shortly after. She soon moved to New York where she did some stage work and also found employment with the Charlotte Sheedy Literary Agency. She came to San Francisco in 1989, appeared in several small theater productions, wrote poetry, sold a few paintings, worked for UCSF and other institutions, and eventually joined City of Refuge UCC Church, originally of San Francisco but now located in Oakland. Her memorial service will be January 14 at 1 p.m. at City of Refuge, 8400 Enterprise Way in Oakland.
Obituaries should be e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
They must be no longer than 200 words. Please follow normal rules of capitalization and no poetry. We reserve the right to edit for style, clarity, grammar, and taste. Please provide the name and contact information for the funeral home, crematory, or organ donation agency that handled final disposition of the body. This is for verification. Please submit a photo of the deceased. E-mail a recent color jpg. Deadline for obituaries is Monday at 9 a.m., with the exception of special display ad obituaries, which must be submitted by Friday at 3 p.m. For information on paid obituaries, call (415) 861-5019. Obituaries can be mailed to Bay Area Reporter, 44 Gough Street, Suite 204, San Francisco, CA 94103. Write the deceased's name on the back of the photo. If you include a SASE for the photo's return, write the person's name on the inside of the envelope flap. All obituaries must include a contact name and daytime phone number. They must be submitted within a year of the death.
For archived obituaries, go to www.glbthistory.org/obituaries