Mary Simmons Mack is Sarasota born and bred.
Her family moved here fifty-three years ago to the house where she lives to this day.
"There were 7 kids, there were 3 bedrooms, the boys room, the girls room and the parents room."
She graduated from Booker High School in 1964.
" I wanted to go to Ringling but wasn't allowed to and I wanted to go to Manatee and I wasn't allowed. Manatee county provided a bus for students who wanted to go to college in St. Petersburg so we traveled 70 miles a day."
From there she went to live in Pittsburgh where she worked as a welder. Then she moved to Miami where she was a waitress. But she says her longest trip was to Los Angeles on a bus.
From Los Angeles she planned to move to Atlanta.
"I came back here to see my mother and I ran into my husband."
He was in the military and they were stationed in Germany. When they returned to Newtown, Mary had a son and twin girls and worked as a deputy clerk in the Sarasota County court system. She's always been a driving force in her community, working to bring about improvements like the new Booker High School and the new Robert Taylor center and other community projects.
Also she made sure her three children graduated from college and recently, so did she.
"I got my my degree at Strayer at 68, so any young person should never let anyone tell them what they can't do."
Mary's faith helped her survive some difficult times.
"I trust God with all my heart."
And her life lesson?
"It's the choices you make in your life that determines what happens."