Mary Blanche Prats
Mary Blanche Prats
  • March 7, 1929 - December 4, 2017
  • Houston, Texas

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The wonderful life of Mary Blanche Flaherty Prats ended peacefully in her sleep on December 4, 2017. Born March 7, 1929, Mary was a native Houstonian, and the second of five children born to Joseph and Nellie Blanche Flaherty. She graduated from Missouri City High School, where she was a cheerleader, and attended business college. Mary began her career as an executive secretary at Diebold Safe & Lock and Tidewater Oil. Later Mary returned to the workforce as secretary at St. Vincent De Paul Catholic school.

On Thanksgiving weekend in 1949, Mary's older brother, Joe Flaherty, took her along on a visit across town to meet his college friend, Michael Prats. It was love at first sight for Mary, and they were married April 7, 1951.

In 1954, Mary, Mike and their oldest child, Delicia, moved to the Netherlands as part of Mike's career with Shell. While there, Mary and Mike travelled the continent as much as possible. Mary and Delicia journeyed to Ireland in 1954 where they met Mary's father's family, with whom she remained in contact with visits and snail mail.

Upon returning to Houston in 1955, Mary and Mike raised their growing family, first in the McGregor Park area and later in the Braes Heights neighborhood, which was closer to Mike's work at the Shell laboratory on Bellaire Blvd. The family spent the summers of 1958-1960 in Alberta, Canada and thereafter undertook extensive road trips combining Mike's work with vacations all over the continental United States. After their son Steven started college, Mary and Mike returned to the Netherlands, followed by a last move to Venezuela. While in The Netherlands in 1981, they became grandparents for the first time, assuming the monikers of Oma & Opa for their grandchildren. As usual, the intrepid pair travelled wherever and whenever they could in Europe and South America and continued to travel after returning to Houston by Christmas of 1983. Mary and Mike escorted each granddaughter on a trip to Ireland and Spain (separate trips) to meet family.

Mary was an adventurous, creative and generous person, never meeting a stranger. She was a terrific cook (clay pot chicken, pepper-crusted roasts, black beans and rice, churros, flan) with an extensive collection of cookbooks. She kept a beautiful house (tip: to remove a lizard from your house, use the vacuum cleaner), displaying artwork and decorative boxes picked up in her travels. Christmas dcor featured hundreds of her nativity sets. A talented seamstress, she made clothes for herself and her three daughters (crop tops, flannel nightgowns with rick-rack, Easter dresses, and Halloween costumes). Her children volunteered her to be scout leader, class or team mom, field trip chaperone, bake sale contributor and whatever other job required an adult because she was a willing and fun participant.

While supporting Mike's long career at Shell, attending professional conventions with him, and sometimes raising their four children single-handed due to his work travel, Mary enjoyed creating things of beauty. One house was hugged by beds of daylilies, another became her bromeliad conservatory and her townhouse courtyard housed many frog statues and ornaments. Mary painted in oil, made crafts such as hollow-blown Easter eggs, beaded jewelry, and enjoyed fashioning seasonal door decorations.

Mary played bridge with many friends and groups over the years, wherever she lived, and was distraught when she was no longer able to do so. From her avid reading (newspapers (she read the obituaries regularly), magazines and novels), Mary always gleaned a joke to tell or found a new restaurant to visit. She and Mike were long-time season ticket holders at Houston's Alley Theater, and in her later years she closely followed the Houston Astros by watching on TV or attending a few home games. She was so happy her Astros won the World Series. Family gatherings took many forms over the years, and all were fun with and for Mary. Her adventurous spirit was contagious.

Mary's life also involved music. She sang in the car on road trips till the family joined in (She'll Be Comin' Round the Mountain, You Are My Sunshine, Red River Valley, Oh Susanna, How Much is that Doggy in the Window). She had her own "boom box" to listen to her CDs of Willie Nelson, Ray Price, Charlie Pride, Patsy Cline and other favorites. A few years ago, during part of her 80th birthday celebration, she danced onstage at Houston's House of Blues Gospel Brunch.

After moving to Bayou Manor in August 2012, Mary and Mike met many new friends and continued to enjoy the company of long-time friends with regular lunch or dinner dates. Mary worked in the gift shop, participated in the Red Hat ladies' excursions and always decorated the apartment door with one of her designs. While in healthcare at Bayou Manor, she loved the therapy dog visitors, especially Buddy, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, with his long silky ears.

Mary was preceded in death by her parents and all siblings. She is survived by her husband of more than 66 years, Michael; daughters, Delicia Prats Thayer, Barbara Prats Neely (Roger), Teresa Prats Dodson; son, Steven Prats (Teri); granddaughters Lauren Thayer Peterson (Brian) and Mary Frances Dodson; great-grandchildren Riley Grace Peterson, Cole Matthew Peterson and Ryann Elizabeth Peterson; numerous nieces, nephews, cousins, friends, neighbors and colleagues. She loved you all.

Her family expresses sincere appreciation to Dr. Carmel Dyer, the Bayou Manor third floor healthcare staff and the Houston Hospice Red Team.

Please join us to remember and celebrate her life. Services will be held at Earthman's Bellaire, Saturday, Dec. 16, 2017 at 10:00am. There will be a light reception after the memorial service, with private family graveside services at Forest Park Lawndale, Houston, TX following.

If you so choose, memorials to honor Mary may be made to Houston Food Bank, 535 Portwall St., Houston, Texas 77029; Canine Critters, 2617C West Holcombe Blvd., Box 265, Houston, TX 77025; The Houston Public Library Foundation, 500 McKinney St., Houston, TX 77002 or The Alley Theater, 615 Texas Avenue, Houston, TX 77002, or to a