Obituary: Mary Wise Wharton
Mary Wise Wharton, 98, long-time resident of the Rand District, born in Black Bear, Idaho on Nov. 14, 1915, passed away on Feb. 23, 2014, in the presence of her daughter, Sunny Wise, at Providence Holy Cross in Mission Hills following medical complications and hospitalization that had begun on Oct. 11, 2013, at Henry Mayo Hospital.
Mary will be laid to rest on Saturday, March 8, at the Rand District Cemetery in Johannesburg, Calif., following services at the Johannesburg Foursquare Church at 1:30 p.m., with local Pastor Ozzie Napolis and Reverend Tom De Santis of Santa Clarita, officiating. Internment will follow at the family plot at the Rand District Cemetery.
A gifted homemaker and caregiver for many years, Mary maintained the Randsburg Methodist Church and other establishments on the hill, while caring for senior citizens. She first moved to the Red Mountain area in 1920, along with her brother James, and parents George and Helen Charyniak who relocated to the United States from the Ukraine before their children’s births.
With a much-shortened last name, Mary and James Harinek then attended the Atolia School in the Osdick School District, where Mary received many awards for penmanship and held the distinction of outrunning a roadrunner. Unfortunately due to a mining accident, their father passed away in 1925, leaving Helen to raise her small children on her own.
Because of grade-level cut-offs in the Osdick School District, Mary was sent to Los Angeles in the late 1920s where she attended Virgil Junior High School and John Marshall High School, while living with and assisting with household chores for B. Black and Sons and others.
Mary returned to the desert and married Eddie Bunn of the Bunn-O-Maker family in the 1930s. Following the untimely death of their two infant sons, Eddie and Baxter Bunn, and medical advice to not have any more children, Mary and Eddie divorced and she in turn married George Blakely.
Blakely, who served in World War II, succumbed not long thereafter following an accident, which immediately claimed the life of his brother near Kennedy Meadows.
In the meantime, Mary’s mother, Helen, whose then husband, George Bohren had passed away at the Veterans’ Hospital, met and soon married George Bird, local carpenter extraordinaire, in 1952, while Mary soon tied the knot with Strother “Curly” Wise, then stationed at China Lake. Contrary to the advice of her physicians, Mary and Curly conceived Buddy and Sunny Wise who both grew up locally and attended Johannesburg Elementary, James Monroe and Burroughs High School.
Together, the Bird and Wise families created and sold popular desert holly Christmas wreaths and brought much-needed greenery, including ice plants and cottonwood trees to the Indian Wells Valley, while James Harinek raised his family in Trona, while working as a high level supervisor at Kerr McGee.
Many years after separating from Buddy’s and Sunny’s father, Mary finally married the love of her life, Ike Wharton, who was best known for drilling many water wells locally and throughout the Western United States, as well as the Philippine Islands for Gen. Douglas MacArthur during World War II.
Following the passing of Mary’s mother in 1989 and the death of Ike in 1993, Mary along with her stepfather, George, relocated to Canyon Country where they resided with Sunny and her family. Mary and George were supportive and lively attendees at their grandchildren’s school and community performances.
Mary loved dancing, crocheting, country music, cooking and helping others, including her stepfather who survived more than 10 years after his own stroke before finally passing away in 2001.
Daughter, Sunny Wise, notes that if not for her mother’s willingness to shuttle her back and forth to Burroughs High School to get on debate busses headed to and from Bakersfield tournaments in the wee hours of the morning, she, Sunny, would not have attended UCLA, let alone become a labor lawyer who has since practiced in Southern California for more than 30 years.
Sunny also well remembers the beautiful costumes her mother hand-sewed with local mothers on behalf of the popular Ridgecrest dance studios, known as the Wayne Grey Cyclone of Youth Review.
Mary Wharton is preceded in death by her mother and stepfather, Helen and George Bird, and her son Buddy.
She is survived by her daughter and her grandchildren, including Marie and Shawnie Wise-Hawkins, of Canyon Country; as well as her son’s children, Strother III of Bullhead City, Nev., Steven Wise of Sonora, Calif., Christopher and Jacqueline Wise of Montrose, Calif., and Dr. Jonathan Wise of Las Vegas, Nev. Great-grandchildren include Ryan, Bobby, Noah, Savannah and Zoie.
Submitted by the family of Mary Wise WhartonStory First Published: 2014-03-05