Mary Low Cheadle

Date of Birth

September 2, 1915

Date of Death

June 30, 2008

City of Death

Louisville, KY

Mary Low Cheadle (92), of Louisville, Kentucky passed away peacefully in her sleep on June 30, 2008, after a long illness. She was born Mary Jenkins Low on September 2nd, 1915, in Westerly, Rhode Island, the only daughter of Andrew S. Low and Jessie L. Low, emigrants from Scotland. Her younger brothers Andy and Keith were both career military officers and preceded her in death. She attended Westerly High School and Rhode Island College of Education.

Mary was introduced to Vernon I. Cheadle, a promising young botanist from Harvard, and the couple was married on December 23rd, 1939. This began a 55 year marriage that took her to Davis, where Vernon served as chair of the Botany Department, and then Santa Barbara, CA. She was best known as first lady of University of California at Santa Barbara.

Her husband served as Chancellor of UCSB from 1962 until 1977, during which time the campus experienced unprecedented growth. These years were the highlight of Mary’s life. She dedicated her life to UCSB and the library in particular, where the Mary Cheadle conference room was dedicated in her honor after their retirement. Her warmth and charisma were appreciated by all. Mary was a resourceful diplomat who focused on developing the campus, community relations, and enhancing the reputation of UCSB. The Cheadle family is a proud member of the Lancaster Society, which supports UCSB.

After retirement Mary and Vernon lived together in Santa Barbara until her husband passed away in 1995. She then moved to Louisville to be with her son’s family, and lived with them for the last several years. The family wishes to thank Ray and Mary Evert, Jennifer Thorsch, and Chancellor and Mrs. Henry Yang for their wonderful support during her life. She is survived by her only child, William G. Cheadle, her daughter-in-law, Mary O. Cheadle, and her grandsons Gerald (Jack) A. Cheadle and Joseph (Joey) B. Cheadle.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorial contributions can be made to the Davidson Library ( and to the Vernon and Mary Cheadle Center for Biodiversity at UCSB. A memorial service will be planned for later this fall at the campus.


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