Obituary of Rev. Mary Emma Dryden
December 3, 2022
Mary Emma Thompson Dryden completed her time on earth on December 3, 2022. She died peacefully at her home in New York City where she has lived since 1973. She was 83 years old.
She was preceded in death by her parents, Marguerite Ethel Young Thompson and Fred Caldwell Thompson; her husband of 42 years, Donald Richard Dryden; and her sister, Fredda Young Thompson Peele. Born in Lincolnton, North Carolina on November 7, 1939, Mary Emma attended Greensboro College and then graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1961. She taught history for one year at West Lincoln High School. Her summer breaks were spent as a camp counselor in VT, as a waitress at resorts in both Virginia Beach, VA, and Lake Tahoe, CA, and as a chambermaid in Lenox, MA.
In 1962, she joined the United States Foreign Service as a secretary. She was assigned to Paris, France and later to Dakar, Senegal. In 1968, she resigned from the Foreign Service. She then became an officer in the Central Intelligence Agency where she was assigned to Europe. When she completed her posting in the CIA in 1972, Mary Emma was awarded a medal for Dedicated Service to the United States Government. In 1973, she moved to New York City where she met and married Don, joining him in his business, Dryden Gallery & Custom Framing, initially located in Manhattan's Upper East Side and now in Greenwich Village, with two years in Charlotte, North Carolina. She continued working at the frame shop after Don's death in 2015 until her passing.
Don knew of Mary Emma's interest in Emmet Fox (1886-1951), an ordained Divine Science minister and prolific author of metaphysical books. In the 1930's-40's, his church met at Carnegie Hall with two services on Sunday, each attended by several thousand people. Don happened upon a listing in the NY Times for the Emmet Fox church. Mary Emma attended and thus began her studies in Divine Science, a metaphysical teaching based on the Bible's Old and New Testaments. In 2003, after 5 years of study, Mary Emma was ordained as a Divine Science minister and became the Associate Minister at Quimby Church in Secaucus, NJ, 15 minutes outside Manhattan.
In 2012, Mary Emma became the Senior Minister at Quimby Church after the retirement of the founding minister, Rev. Lucia Faugno. During the Covid-19 pandemic, Quimby Church closed its physical location in Secaucus and moved online where it continues its active, growing ministry holding services and classes via web-based video and audio conferencing.
Mary Emma is survived by her beloved family: her brother, Fred Caldwell Thompson, Jr. of Charlotte, NC, sisters-in-law in NC and CT, brothers-in-law in CT, nieces in Atlanta and Macon, GA, Boston, MA, San Francisco, CA, and New York City, and cousins in Lincolnton and its surrounding area in NC. Dryden Gallery & Custom Framing, founded in 1970, continues to operate under Marc Ashmore, its manager since 1983, with the help of Don's two brothers. Quimby Church continues via Zoom with Senior Minister Reverend Dr. Craig Harris.
Mary Emma loved her life and the people she encountered on her daily path. She believed in love for all with no conditions and that life continues after what we call death.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to Quimby Church, P.O. Box 2124, Secaucus, NJ 07096 or the charity of your choice.
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