Mary Catherine Arthur: Became a Lawyer in 1929!!

“Mary C. Arthur Oct 5, 2004 Updated Oct 17, 2018

BURLINGTON/MORRISTOWN – Mary C. Arthur, a longtime Burlington attorney, died peacefully at her residence in Morristown, Vt., on Saturday, Sept. 11, 2004.

Born Mary Catherine Alafat in Burlington on Dec. 11, 1904, she was the youngest daughter of Lebanese immigrants Elias N. and Madeline (Attea) Alafat who arrived at Ellis Island in February of 1897.

Mary graduated from Cathedral High School in 1923, read law under the tutelage of her first employer, attorney Martin Vilas, was admitted to the Vermont Bar on Nov. 9, 1929, and instantly opened her own law office at 188 Main Street (above Nectar’s Restaurant). While occasionally acting as a defense attorney in civil matters, her practice focused on real estate and administrative law.

During the Depression, she supplemented her income as a court reporter, commuting to work in Newport. Mary served impeccably as the primary real estate counsel to several area banks for much of her career.

She married her husband, Harold J. Arthur, on Nov. 11, 1939, and they partnered in the law firm of Arthur & Arthur while dedicating much energy to his political pursuits. The firm relocated to 152 Bank Street, above the new Burlington Federal Savings and Loan building in 1958. In 1976, five years after her husband’s death, Mary continued to practice from her 31 Pitkin Street home (where she had lived since 1916) until she retired in 1992. In 1996, she moved to Morristown, where she remained with her daughter and her daughter’s partner, Conrad Gersuny.

Among the organizations in which she actively participated and held executive offices on local and/or national levels are the Chittenden County Bar Association, the Vermont Bar Association, the Grange (Champlain Valley 400 Chapter), Burlington Business & Professional Women’s Club and the Women’s Relief Corps. Notably, she was Secretary/Treasurer of the Chittenden County Bar Association between 1932 and 1994 and was honored thereby in 1983 on the fiftieth anniversary of that post with a tour of Europe – her first and only transatlantic trip – which she cherished greatly.

A recipient of various awards for civic and executive accomplishments and an alumnus of Who’s Who in America, she was most recently presented with the Chittenden County Good Scout Award by the Green Mountain Council, Boy Scouts of America in 1996 and the Vermont Bar Association President’s Award in 2003. That association feted her as Number 12 in its 2000 Celebration of the First 100 Women admitted to the Vermont Bar.

Mary was the last survivor of her generation in the family and was predeceased by siblings, Margaret Kudiesy of Burlington, Rose Nojaim of Syracuse, N.Y., George Alafat of Enfield, N.H., and Michael Alafat of Lebanon, N.H.; childhood brothers, Joseph and Nicholas Alafat; by her husband, former Vermont legislator, Lt. Governor, Governor and congressional candidate Harold J. Arthur. She is survived by her daughter, Portia M. Arthur of Morristown, and numerous nieces, nephews and their families.

Special thanks are extended to those friends and colleagues whose attentions lately kept her purposeful and vital, including Carol and Bill Hauke, Nasema Corey, Susan Delear, Isabelle George and Sadie Khouri; to her doctors Marvin Klikunas, Melissa Volansky, Michael Sampson and Jeffrey McKechnie; to the skilled nurses and aides of Lamoille Home Health Services; and to the staff of Out and About. Eternal gratitude goes to Conrad Gersuny for his generosity, kindness and dedication to her care given in his loving surroundings.

Mary’s interment service took place on Sept. 15, 2004, at Lakeview-Green Mountain Cemetery in Burlington, Father Dan White of Saint Mark Church officiating. A memorial gathering will be held on Friday, Oct. 15, 2004, at the Burlington Country Club, 568 South Prospect Street, Burlington, Vt., beginning at 4 p.m. with reception immediately following until 8 p.m. Friends are encouraged to attend and participate…”-

Unfortunately, I could find no photo of her.

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