St. John's Cemetery Individual Record

Mary Morrison Gillis Mellen

Mary Morrison Gillis Mellen
(July 23, 1912 -- April 3, 1987)

Section: 53
Space: 4
Lot: 5
Maiden Name: Gillis
Parents: James McLean & Etta Morrison Gillis
Spouse: Frederick C. Mellen
Place of Birth: Pensacola, FL
Occupation: Education

Mary Morrison Gillis Mellen was born in Pensacola on July 23, 1912. Her father James McLean Gillis, and her mother Etta Morrison Gillis, were both natives of DeFuniak Springs, Florida. Her father was in the timber business in Pensacola. He died at the age of 34 when  Mary Morrison was  two years old and her brother only four. The family returned to DeFuniak for a time then moved to Pontotoc, Misssissippi where Etta Gillis took a job teaching at Chickasaw College.

Mary Morrison grew up living on the campus of Chickasaw College which she attended for her first two years of college. She transferred to the University of Alabama and graduated from there in 1932 at the age of 19 with a degree in business. At the time of her graduation women were not yet admitted to Phi Gamma Sigma, the honorary fraternity for the school of business. When that rule changed the following year she was invited to return and be among the first women inducted into the honorary fraternity.

Mary Morrison, like so many of her era, had numerous stories of finishing college and beginning her career in the era of the Great Depression. One story was of a job interview in probably 1932 or 1933. The owner of the business told  her that  her college records indicated that she was more than qualified for the job, but that he could not in good conscience give the job to a single woman when he had so many men applying who had lost their jobs and had families to feed. When asked how she felt about that, she always said that he made the right call.

Mary Morrison took a job with the Home Owners’ Loan Corporation.  She spent three years in their Cincinnati, Ohio office where she supervised the transfer of over one hundred thousand borrowers’ loan accounts from a punched card system to the new bookkeeping machine system. Wanting to return to the South, she moved back to Pensacola to work for the Sherrill Oil Company. She then met Frederick Churchill Mellen whom she married on November 4, 1939. In the early years of her marriage she stayed busy as a wife, mother, and community volunteer. She served as Chairman of the Easter Seals Campaign of Escambia County and Chairman of the Finance Committee of the Community Chest. She was on the board of the Women’s Home and a charter member of the YWCA and the Garden Club. She was also active in McIlwain Presbyterian Church which her parents had helped start.            

In the early 60’s she returned to the workforce as the Director of Finance for Pensacola Junior College, a position she held for 15 years. During that time she earned her master’s degree, commuting for a year to  The University of Southern Mississippi. At that time (1965) USM was the closest university to Pensacola  where one could earn a graduate degree.

She and her husband, City Attorney Frederick Churchill Mellen, had two children, Frederick Gillis Mellen and Flora Mellen Woodward.  

Mary Morrison Mellen died in Pensacola on April 3, 1987.