Friday, October 11, 2013

[174] MTSU community mourns loss of trailblazer Mary C. Scales

The Blue Raider family and the wider community lost one of its treasures over the weekend with the death of longtime education advocate Mary C. Scales.

Scales, the university’s first African-American professor, died Sunday following a long battle with cancer. She was 85.

“Mrs. Mary Scales was truly a community treasure, a tremendous advocate for education and a cherished member of the MTSU community,” MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee said. “She was also a dear friend to me and my wife, Elizabeth, who worked closely with her over the years as Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority sisters as well as avid supporters of local schools.

“Mrs. Scales was a trailblazer on the MTSU campus during her tenure within the College of Education, becoming the university’s first black faculty member and lending her voice within the wider community as a strong advocate of civil rights for all.”

Her late husband, Robert “Tee-Niny” Scales was the city’s first black councilman when he was elected in the early 1960s. She followed in her husband’s footsteps more than two decades later, becoming the first black woman elected to the City Council. Their daughter and MTSU alumna, Madelyn Scales-Harris, continued the family legacy by being elected to the council in 2010.

Scales-Harris told The Daily News Journal: “So many people have said that Murfreesboro is a better place because of the work of my mom and my dad. ... My mother died with dignity. She died the life she lived.”

Mary Scales is known for her decades of teaching and civic work, including her longtime membership on the Murfreesboro City School Board. Scales Elementary School in west Murfreesboro was named in honor of her and her husband.

Last year, MTSU honored her along with two other women at the annual Unity Luncheon as one of the “unsung heroes” within the black community.

“Her passion for properly educating the future generations was unparalleled and the legacy she leaves shines as bright as that wonderful smile that met everyone who had the privilege of crossing her path,” McPhee added. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the entire Scales family during this time.”

Visitation is 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, Oct. 12, at New Vision Baptist Church, 1750 N. Thompson Lane, with funeral services to immediately follow.

Listen to Scales discuss MTSU integration and the Upward Bound program in an archived interview from the Albert Gore Research Center here:

Watch a YouTube video from the 2012 Unity Luncheon:

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