I'm saddened to report that No Depression's long time office manager, Mary Schuh, passed away last night. Mary was diagnosed with Creutzfeldt Jakob, a rapidly degenerative, fatal brain disease, about a month ago.

Those of you who were subscribers to the print magazine, bought back issues or t-shirts from us, made a donation, or received an invoice or payment from us have crossed paths with Mary.   She has been the backbone of No Depression since we went into print back in 1995.  She had worked with ND editor and co-founder Grant Alden at the Rocket (a seminal Seattle music monthly) and shortly after No Depression was formed she began working part time as the office manager splitting her time between the Rocket and No Depression. As we continued to grow the work grew to full time and Mary stepped up and took on whatever was needed.  She was always cheerful, helpful and loved to interact with our readers. Her office was filled with friendly notes from No Depression readers thanking her for her kind service. 

When we went out of print in 2008 and there was no longer a full time job she found other employment but continued on doing whatever was needed for No Depression evenings and weekends. Making the transition from print to digital wasn't an easy one and I was  hugely in over my head and largely on my own with the exception of Mary keeping the beat in the background. She was there to hold down the fort during those very uncertain, overwhelming times doing whatever was asked or needed, always with a smile. Knowing that she had my back and was always there made all the difference in the world during that difficult time.

I visited Mary several times over the last few weeks and the thing that was never taken from her was her love of music.  When she was no longer able to communicate her head would bob along to the music and then as the disease progressed it was just her fingers. 

Word has it this was the last song she heard:

I'm not a writer and I struggle to find the right words to share the beautiful essence of Mary so please read this Facebook post from Charles Cross, Publisher of the Rocket and the poem, "For Mary, who is gone", that Grant posted on the site this morning.

By Charles Cross
My dear friend Mary Schuh passed away this evening. It seems wrong to write just a few lines about somebody so special, so this post is way long, because Mary was someone who mattered in Seattle, in music, and in my life. Mary was not only well loved by her family and friends, including husband Sandy Milne pictured here with her, she was a longtime fixture at The Rocket, and then later No Depression. She even learned accordion, and formed a band herself. No surprise, she was wonderful at that, too.

At The Rocket reunion last summer none of us appeared to have aged less than Mary, who, as always, had a radiant smile, a warm wit, and a passionate love of music that was central to her core. Visiting her in the hospital a few weeks ago, I joked with her that no one ever had that many Americana CDs in their hospital room. “You’ve got more Chuck Prophet CDs here in your room than Chuck Prophet has in his house,” I said. Mary laughed, but she always laughed at my jokes. She passed away tonight while Emmy Lou Harris’s “All My Tears” played. While it is terribly sad to lose Mary at what seemed like the prime of life, she lived life with grace, and left it will grace.

There will a private mass for family, but we are planning a celebration of Mary’s life for her many friends. It will probably be held Sunday October 27th, but I will post details when they are solid.

When I became editor and publisher for The Rocket in the eighties, Mary was the first person I hired, and she worked with me for fifteen years. Her initial title was office manager, but she quickly became business manager, and was central to our magazine’s success. She wrote for The Rocket, too, but mostly she also ran our operations, essentially as the COO of our motley paper. She also chased after people who owed us money, which was quite a job, and without any doubt our magazine would have folded in the eighties without her. And maybe I would have folded at times without Mary’s friendship.

Later, after The Rocket did finally go out of business in 2000, even Mary unable to save it from an out-of-state new owner, she began to work for No Depression, and was central to that operation, as well. Whether it was Jimmie Dale Gilmore, or the Derailers, or Emmylou Harris, you knew that Mary would be at any show they did in the area, near the front, loving every moment. She was beautiful in form, and in spirit, and musicians also loved her because she made a great audience.

Mary was an extremely healthy person, so when she began this summer to have motor-skill problems, it was surprising. She was eventually diagnosed with CJD, a horrible and always fatal disease. She told me it wasn’t painful, but more frustrating, as the disease took away every physical thing from her. Music was always there though, even in the very end, and you could tell it still transported her away, and soothed her through a physical decline beyond measure.

The Rocket office was located above the Palace Kitchen (Tom Douglas now works out of my old desk, as his corporate headquarters moved in when we moved out). On the day I first rented the then-empty space, Mary was the first person I showed it too. There was no furniture in the cavernous floor, and as we walked about our voices echoed off the walls, booming. I made some kind of dumb joke about how when our magazine took off internationally we might be able to put another story on the building and then we could legitimately call it “Rocket Towers,” our joke address. Mary laughed at that, and her “ha ha” rolled around inside the empty space.

Many years later now, I can still hear the echoes of that laughter in that room, and in that way Mary will never be gone from me.

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Comment by Andy on September 25, 2013 at 10:26am

Very sad news. I always enjoyed her notes & appreciated all she did for ND.

Comment by TenLayers on September 25, 2013 at 11:26am

She and I had some nice email conversations over this and that.  She turned me onto a few artists I would have passed over.

Comment by chris sweeney on September 25, 2013 at 12:20pm

I'm very sorry to hear this news. I had many exchanges with Mary back in the print days and she was always very helpful. I'll sure miss NoDepMary.

Comment by Allan Sizemore on September 25, 2013 at 12:20pm

Very, very sad news. Peace be with you, Mary.

Comment by RP N10 on September 25, 2013 at 12:47pm

That's a real shame. She was a pleasure to deal with whether over the phone or on the email especially when the online ordering systems struggled with countries outside the US not having states. A great sense of humour too. RIP

Comment by Henry Jasen on September 25, 2013 at 12:54pm

I am sorry to read this.  My heart goes out to the ND community for its loss.

Comment by Jim Hunter on September 25, 2013 at 1:45pm

Very sorry to hear of Mary's passing.  RIP Mary, and my condolences to those of you who knew her well.   I was aware of her because I subscribed to the print for many years, and ordered an item or two.  A name on an invoice...thanks for helping us understand what a great person, and more important, lover of music, she was...that is what binds the ND Commmunity after all. 

 

Comment by Terry Roland on September 25, 2013 at 1:48pm

So sorry to hear about this and my prayers are out there for the No Depression family. Thank you for taking the time to write this and post and the tribute by Charles Cross.  The music never ends and runs that river that flows between our life and death...and then, our life again.....

Comment by Stina on September 25, 2013 at 3:49pm

Very sad news and my heart goes out to all her family and friends. It sounds as if she was a lovely person. The world was blessed for having had her in it.

Comment by Martin Abend on September 25, 2013 at 5:09pm

I'm so saddened to hear that. I was in touch with her a couple times as a ND subscriber. 

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Created by No Depression Feb 17, 2009 at 9:06pm. Last updated by No Depression Sep 24, 2012.