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Awarded for service to Education and Training, service for Sport and Recreation
Entered on roll: 2006
Mary Fox was not only a good administrator – wise, progressive and far-sighted, but she was a true educator. (Rev. Cook, 1962)
Born at Horton College, Ross, Mary Fox was educated at the Launceston Ladies’ College and graduated from the University of Tasmania with a Master of Arts. In 1903, at age 26, Mary was appointed the Headmistress of Launceston Ladies’ College, later to be known as the Methodist Ladies’ College.
She was greatly admired both as a teacher and headmistress. As well as her administrative duties, she taught English, French, Latin, history and geography as well as giving scripture lessons on Sunday.
When Mary took over as Headmistress of the College, enrolments were down to 30. They had risen to 300 by the time of her retirement. She also oversaw an extensive building program, formed the Old Collegians Association (of which she was President) and introduced the house system in 1925 to encourage leadership among the students.
In 1929, she established a domestic science program, 25 years earlier than the program was offered in other schools. In the same year, she set up a branch of the Junior Red Cross Society in the school to enable the girls to raise money for charity.
In 1925, she formed the Association of Headmasters and Headmistresses of Independent Schools as a basis for future discussions and decision making in school policy. She was an active member of the Examinations Committee and the Musical Advisory Board of the University.
Mary was not only an outstanding educator, but also excelled in sports. Having grown up at the all-male Horton College, she was something of a tomboy, being able to out-climb and out-run many of the boys. She was President of the All Australian Women’s Hockey Association in 1925, 1932 and 1938. Ahead of her time, she also founded the first Women’s Cricket Association in Tasmania.
On her retirement in 1941, she received an MBE from King George VI for her extraordinary contribution to women’s education and sport. Never one to remain idle, Mary joined the Women’s Land Army, assisting the war effort by working in a canning factory and on a poultry farm.