Mary Gertrude Rodriguez Wardrop died in her sleep at her home in Pinehurst, NC on March 18, 2018 after a short battle with pancreatic cancer. 

She was born on August 22nd, 1933 in Monroe, Louisiana to the late William Drane Haddox Rodriguez and Edith Dupree Brown Rodriguez.  From the first day of her life, she worked to excel in all of her endeavors. All through her life, she was inspired by her maternal grandmother, Gertrude Mayfield Brown, who taught her to be thrifty and generous.  Her mother and maternal grandmother taught her the value of reading, education, and, of course, the proper use of grammar.

Mary received top honors throughout her educational career.  She graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Rhodes College in 1955 with her baccalaureate degree in mathematics.  She furthered her mathematics education by receiving a masters degree from the University of Virginia, and finally receiving her doctorate from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1964.  Her theoretical mathematics research took her into the world of Hilbert’s Space and finally into the academic world of mathematics as a professor at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and Central Michigan University in Mount Pleasant, Michigan.  One of her many cherished memories during her undergraduate years was her year abroad to study at the University of Nancy in Lorraine, France and the University of Provence in Aix en Provence, France, through a Rotary Scholarship.

When she was not engaged in academics, she raised Tennessee Walking Horses, dogs, and a clowder of Siamese Cats.  She was an avid reader, and she had a passion for music, in particular classical and New Orleans Jazz music. She loved to sing, especially with the choir of the Community Presbyterian Church of Pinehurst.  Early in her childhood, she learned to play the piano and the violin. Later on in life, she became a passionate golfer to the point of studying every aspect of the game. With that, she was a member of the Pinehurst Country Club and was an active member of the Silver Foils.  Fluent in French, she would take an annual sojourn to France or Belgium to study French and other romance languages.

She loved the community and the people of Pinehurst, and she was a dedicated volunteer in many other aspects of her community.  She volunteered at the Village bookshop and Given Memorial Library. Aside from singing in the choir, she would volunteer to be her church’s editor.  She was extremely dedicated to Chief Earl Phipps and the Pinehurst Police Department, and she was a volunteer COP – Citizen On Patrol.

Finally, Mary had a very generous heart.  She was a role model of philanthropy, with her true passion, among many organizations as well as friends and neighbors, being St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and her alma mater, Rhodes College.  Discussions with her always came back to the importance of giving back, especially to those truly in need. Suffice it to say, she was a servant to many.

Mary was married to Dr. Joe Embry from 1955 to 1972, and then to Dr. Robert Wardrop from 1977 to his death in 2007.  She is survived by her nephew and godson, Rear Admiral Will Rodriguez, United States Navy, Retired, and his wife, Allet; her niece, Gigi Rodriguez Oliveaux and her husband, Frank; her grandniece and “academic legacy”, Lauren Rodriguez Brill (Rhodes College Class of 2009) and her husband, Christopher; and a number of cousins including Dr. Louisa Drane Rodriguez Conroy (Rhodes College Class of 2000) and her husband Steve Dial (Lieutenant Colonel, United States Army, Retired).  She is also survived her late husband’s (Dr. Robert Wardrop) children.

In lieu of flowers, gifts may be made in her name to either St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital or Rhodes College.

A memorial service will be held 2 pm Friday, April 27th 2018 at Community Presbyterian Church in Pinehurst with Rev. Rod Stone officiating.

Online condolences may be made to

Boles Funeral Home of Pinehurst is serving the family.

Mrs. Wardrop’s family and friends are in our thoughts and prayers at Sandhills Sentinel.

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