Mary Ellen Hughes was born on Wednesday, July 24, 1940, in Rowan County, N.C. She was the daughter of the late Virginia and the late John K. Neely.

The family relocated to Harrisburg, Pa., in the late 1940s. Mary, who was affectionately known as “Tompy” to family and friends, received her formal education in the Harrisburg School System, William Penn Campus. One of her proudest achievements that she loved to share, especially with her grandchildren, was she received her GED in 1988, the year her youngest child graduated. She later returned to her birth state of North Carolina, where several of her children soon followed.

Mary loved and adored her family and friends and was always there for them in their times of need. She often spoke of how as a teenager she would babysit her oldest sister’s children. To this day, her nephews refer to her as their older sister. She was a very outspoken person with a kind and gentle soul. She didn’t mind telling you what was on her mind. Her words were “I said it, I meant it and I mean it with love.” She said what she said and she meant what she said. Whatever she had, she was willing to share and gave her grandchildren all she could.

Mary’s employment path included the old Penn Harris Hotel in Harrisburg, Pa., Olivetti Corporation, and ASMO North Carolina Inc. Mary enjoyed reading, crossword puzzles, computer games, watching old westerns and tending to her plants and garden.

But most importantly, Mary loved her children, grandchildren, sisters and brothers, nieces and nephews, family and friends and was extremely close to many family members and friends.

On Thursday, November 30, 2023, at 83 years of age, Mary peacefully transitioned into eternal life. In addition to her parents, she was preceded in death by her husband, James Hughes; her daughter, Portea Long; her son, James Jerome Hughes; sisters, Frances Porter, Doris, Betty, and Bertha Mae Neely; and brothers, John Henry, James Lesley, Alvertis Jerome, Furman Thomas, and James Edward Neely.

Mary leaves to celebrate her life and legacy her children, Cindy (Ramon) Gladden, Candy Marie, Barry Eugene (Grace), Alisa Ann, and L.D. Hughes; grandchildren: Lynn Neely, Nita Long, Fiona Coleman, Cassandra Hughes, James Hughes, Tyrell, and Brandon Harris, all of Harrisburg, Pa., Rhikeasha (Ismail) Bagceci of Pearl City, Hawaii, Ramon (Capri) Gladden of Chantilly, Va., and Annetta, Eugene, Lashawn, Lashonda, David, Barry, Shonea, Alvertis (Deceased), Alexus, Alex, and Nicole Hughes, all of Statesville, N.C.; nineteen great-grandchildren; six great-great-grandchildren; siblings: Maggie McCann Barbee and Sheila (Evans) Lowery, of Statesville, N.C., John Neely, Robert Neely and Paul Neely of Woodleaf, N.C., Mary Ann Alexander of Salisbury, N.C., and Paula K. Neely of Woodleaf, N.C.; and a host of special nieces, special nephews, family, and friends, who will all miss Mary’s loving heart and kind spirit.

Blessed are those who shared Mary’s journey. She was a devoted daughter, sister, mother, grandmother, aunt, cousin and friend to all who loved her as she was.

We will forever love and cherish your legacy. We thank God for sending you to us, but we are certain you are resting in his peace.

Mary’s life will be celebrated at 12 noon on Friday, December 15, in the Refuge Church Of God’s Church Sanctuary, Statesville, N.C., with viewing and visitation from 12 until 12:30 p.m.

Bunch-Johnson Funeral Home, Statesville, N.C., is handling arrangements.