Mary Travers died aged seventy-two on
16th September 2009, at Danbury Hospital in Connecticut, U.S.A. from complications related to a bone marrow transplant and other treatments. In addition to her husband, she is survived by daughters Erika and Alicia; her sister, the educator and psychologist Ann Gordon; and two granddaughters, Virginia and Wylly. She was buried at Umpawaug Cemetery in Redding, Cannecticut, U.S.A..
A memorial service for Mary Travers was held on 9th November 2009 at Riverside Church In New York City. The four-hour service, on the seventy-third anniversary of her birth, was attended by a capacity crowd. Two of the many reflections shared at the service speak to the impact of Mary Travers's work and the significance of her legacy.
In 2004, Mary Travers had been diagnosed with leukemia and bone marrow transplant in 2005 had produced a temporary remission.
Mary Travers was married four times. Her first brief union, to John Filler, produced her elder daughter, Erika, in 1960. In 1963, she married Barry Feinstein, a prominent freelance photographer of musicians and celebrities. Her younger daughter, Alicia, was born in 1966, and the couple divorced the following year. In the 1970s, she was married to Gerald Taylor, publisher of National Lampoon. Following her marriage to Taylor, Mary Travers had a relationship for several years with former Watergate prosecutor Richard Ben-Veniste while raising her daughters in New York. In 1991, she married restaurateur Ethan Robbins; Mary Travers lived with Robbins in the small town of Redding, Connecticut, for the remainder of her life.
Mary Travers was born in Louisville, Kentucky, to Robert and Virginia Travers, both journalists and active organizers of The Newspaper Guild, a trade union. In 1938, the family moved to Greenwich Village in New York City. Mary attended the progressive Little Red School House, where she met musical icons like Pete Seeger and Paul Robeson. Robeson sang her lullabies. Mary Travers did not graduate from high school but left school in the 11th grade to become a member of the Song Swappers folk group.
The Song Swappers sang backup for Pete Seeger on four reissue albums in 1955, when Folkways Records reissued a collection of Seeger's pro-union folk songs, "Talking Union". Mary Travers regarded her singing as a hobby and was shy about it, but was encouraged by fellow musicians. She also was in the cast of the Broadway show The Next President.
The group Peter, Paul and Mary was formed in 1961, and was an immediate success. They shared a manager, Albert Grossman, with Bob Dylan. Their success with Dylan's "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right" helped propel Dylan's Freewheelin' album into the U.S. Top 30 four months after its release.
Peter, Paul and Mary broke up in 1970. The band broke up shortly after having their biggest U.K. hit, singer/songwriter John Denver's iconic ballad "Leaving on a Jet 'Plane" ; the song made number 1 on both the U.S. Billboard and Cash Box charts in December 1969 and was the group's only number one hit.
Mary Travers subsequently pursued a solo career and recorded five albums: Mary in 1971, Morning Glory in 1972, All My Choices in 1973, Circles in 1974 and It's in Everyone of Us in 1978.
Peter, Paul and Mary re-formed in 1978, toured extensively, and issued many new albums. The group was inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 1999.
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