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Mary Ella Sanders Locklear was born on 16 January 1990 in Smithfield, North Carolina; the fifth child born to the late John Sanders and Marzillar McNeil Sanders Yates. She entered eternal rest on 3 June 2023 at UNC Hospice Hospital of Pittsboro, North Carolina.
Mary received her early education in the Johnston, Wake and Durham County public school system. She continued her education and graduated from Durham Technical College in 1978 earning her degree as a Licensed Practical Nurse. In the year 1980 she obtained her certification as a pharmacy technician.
Mary dedicated 23 years of service in the medical profession within the UNC Hospital system in Chapel Hill, North Carolina before retiring in 1989.
On 12 April 1958 she was united in holy matrimony to Louis E. Locklear, who preceded her in death. Mary was a devoted and loving mother to her three children Thurman, Ronald, and Ida LaVern Couch.
After giving her heart to God she became a member of Holland's Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church later joining Saint Paul's African Methodist Episcopal "AME" Church after moving to Chapel Hill, North Carolina. She held numerous positions within the church serving as a Trustee, the first President of the Lay Organization, Treasurer of the Senior Choir, member of both the Senior and Contemporary Choirs, Sunday School, Missionary Society, Kitchen Committee and Steward Board. In addition, Mary represented Saint Paul's AME in a variety of conference activities; serving as the 3rd Vice President of the Western North Carolina Conference Lay Organization and Chairperson of the Western North Carolina Conference Prayer Breakfast and Memorial Service.
Mary was an encourager, and adored singing praises to God. She was a firm believer that everyone is someone in the eyes of the Lord. Mary loved to smile and hers made a difference in the lives of all who encountered her.
Her community service recognition included volunteering with Duke Community Hospice Service and being an active member of Women of Distinction Community and Extension Club receiving recognition as the Business Associate of the year 1996. Additionally, Mary was a member of the following organizations Elks Lodge Order of Eastern Star Chapter Number185, G. Wesley Allen Assembly Number 324 Order of the Golden Circle, Maria Court Number 1 Order of Cyrene Crusaders - Pha and Salome Temple Number 704.
She leaves to cherish her loving memories two sons; Therman Couch (wife Finesse) of Durham, NC and Ronald Couch of New York, NY; daughter Ida La Vern Couch of the home, grandchildren; Aaron (wife Deida), Bryan (wife Ashton), C. Destin (wife Emily), Thurman Il (wife Melissa), Courtney, Jessica, Faith, Raquell, Lamont, Ronald Jr. Ronalisa and Jermaine; 25 great grandchildren, 1 great-great grandchild, and a host of nieces and nephews and other relatives and friends.