Mary Frances Macdonald Haynes
Mary Frances Macdonald Haynes, resident of Greater Miami since her retirement in 1989, died of old age (94), peacefully in her sleep, in her home at High Pines. She was a member of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Miami, of their Women’s Alliance, of the Democratic Party, the Sierra Club, the Gray Panthers and she contributed to many civic and social organizations.
She was predeceased by her husband of 54 years, Alfred C. Haynes, with whom she had two children (Duncan H., a Miami resident, and Robert A. ‡1983), three grandchildren, and many great-grandchildren.
Mrs. Haynes worked as a homemaker and mother, as a newspaper proofreader, a medical transcriptionist, a claims processer for Blue Cross/Blue Shield, and finally as a Federal employee, handling security classification files for the U.S. Army at Ft. Holabird, Md.
She was born about 50 miles south of the Arctic Circle and spent the first 14 years of her life there, in the village of Candle, Alaska (pop. 90). Her mother was Frances Bishop, of Anglo-American parentage, who left Hillsdale, Mich. to become the mistress of Candle’s one-room school. Mary’s father was Duncan Macdonald, a technically trained young man of Scottish parentage, who left Montreal to set up a two-man, 12-dog operation, prospecting and mining gold in Candle.
The two first met when Duncan sought out Frances for help with geometry. Undoubtedly, chemistry played a role as well. Within a few months the two were married, and Mary Frances was born two years later. For the delivery, Duncan took Frances 50 miles by dogsled to the nearest doctor, who manned a Federal medical clinic for Indians in Noorvik. The delivery was successful, but baby Mary could not be brought to breast feed during the following three days at the clinic. With frontier medical science able to do nothing more for baby Mary, Duncan bundled mother and child in the dog sled for an unpromising trip home. But the bumpy ride that jostled baby’s and mother’s flesh together, and the freezing wind that whipped in through tarpaulin and blankets also whipped the baby’s inborn instincts. Thus Mary learned her first lesson in survival.
Unfortunately, Mary lost her mother at the age of two, in what would have been the birth of a baby sister. Thus, Mary was raised by her father, with occasional help from his partner in the mining operation. But several years later, the partner had to return to the “lower 48” after a serious mishap. Emerging from the tunnel at the end of a day’s work in mid-August, he had encountered a freak blizzard that produced whiteout conditions – and he misjudged his ability to find the way to back to the cabin, some 200 yards distant. The next morning he was found in a snowbank, alive but with one leg frozen and gangrene setting in. With no doctor, ether or chloroform available, and with only able-bodied men to assist, Duncan Macdonald anesthetized his partner with whiskey and sawed off and sewed up his leg.
Mary Frances remembered her father as kind and gentle, a patient educator and explainer of all things, and as a fascinating storyteller.
When Mary Frances was 14, her father experienced a sudden decline in health. He hitched up the dog-team and took her on the 200-mile trek to Nome, and from there by steamship to Seattle, where he was diagnosed with a life-threatening kidney infection. From a hospital bed, he made arrangements for Mary Frances to be sent to her mother’s Bishop relatives in Hillsdale, Mich. He died several days later.
In Hillsdale, Mary Frances was taken in by an unmarried aunt and had much contact with her mother’s siblings and their children. She made good grades in high school but adjusted only slowly to Michigan’s seemingly fast-paced and perplexing social scene. In her first year at Grand Rapids University, she met Alfred C. Haynes, who had been preparing for a career in newspaper journalism. When he graduated at the end of that year, they married and moved to Owosso, Mich., where they lived for five years and where their two sons were born. Her husband’s newspaper positions brought the family to Waukegan, Ill. and then to Indianapolis, Ind. where she worked for Blue Cross/Blue Shield and her sons were raised to adulthood. The next phase of her life was in Baltimore, where her husband worked at the Evening Sun and she worked at Ft. Holabird. During that time, she completed her B.A. degree at the University of Baltimore.
Upon retirement in 1989, she and her husband moved to Miami.
Mary Frances Macdonald Haynes was a thoughtful contributor to every social activity and constructive endeavor that she was involved in. Proud of her Scottish and English heritage, she advocated for prudence, practicality and honest dealing. She inculcated her two sons with her father’s maxims, such as, “Those who do not prepare for themselves are, in essence, forcing others to prepare for them.” Her broad interests included in-depth and critical reading of newspapers and books to inform decisions for her private life and to back up opinions that she expressed in public. She wrote letters to elected officials and was a good resource for friends needing help in deciding whom to vote for in local elections. Women’s rights was one of her favorite causes. Hobby interests included literary fiction, history and biography. Her most heart-felt interests were in things Scottish and Alaska. The latter inspired her younger son, Robert Alfred, to become an itinerate public health nurse stationed in Nome. Flown in and out by bush pilots, he worked from public health sheds set up at far-flung Native American settlements. In 1983, at the age of 35, his life was cut short by accidental drowning while traveling in Chile.
In 2009, thinking of Robert Alfred’s work in the remote villages, the loss of her mother in childbirth, the loss of her father to kidney infection, and after reading in The Nome Nugget that a CAT-Scan machine was needed the local hospital, Mary Frances felt the need to do something: She would buy the hospital a used CAT-Scan machine. Quoting from an Oct. 29, 2009 open-house brochure from the Norton Sound Health Corporation, “Mary Frances Haynes made a private donation in the amount of $200,000 which really got the ball rolling.” Four foundations added their own contributions, totaling $861,000. The open house was for a 16-slice CAT-Scan machine, fully equipped and housed in a newly constructed room. “The NSHC has conservatively estimated that 700 CT Scans will be performed during the first year,” announced the brochure. This reduced or eliminated the need for air transport of a corresponding number in- and out-patients 500 miles to Anchorage, and has doubtlessly saved lives of accident victims whose conditions did not permit any delay.
Friends and acquaintances of Mary Frances Macdonald Haynes and all who share her interests are invited to attend a Sunday afternoon memorial service, which will be held at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Miami, with date to be set in the coming weeks. Call Congregation at 305-667-3697 or e-mail Duncan Harold Haynes, firstname.lastname@example.org.