Mary Read

Mary Read

Hometown: Annandale, Va.

Age: 19

Class: Freshman

Major: Undeclared

Location: Norris Hall

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Profile: Mary Read was a "fun-loving 19-year-old" who graduated from Fairfax's Annandale High School last spring, said her aunt, Karen Kuppinger of Rochester N.Y.

Read had lived in Fairfax County since 1991, said Kuppinger, 42.

At Annandale High, Read played lacrosse and in the marching and symphonic band. She also performed in the band's color guard, her aunt said. She was an "excellent student" who had not decided on a major, Kuppinger said.

"Here's a story about what a sweet, family-oriented girl she is," Kuppinger said. "The last time I saw her -- a year ago Thanksgiving here at my house - she kept disappearing while she was here. I finally said, 'Mary, what are you up to? Are you reading a good book or something?' She was knitting a beautiful scarf - a multicolored fluffy scarf like the girls wear - for her grandmother for Christmas. My mother still wears it. She did very thoughtful things like that."

Read was born in South Korea in January 1988, said her grandmother, Catherine E. Read, of Macedon N.Y.

Her parents - retired Air Force Lt. Col. Peter Read and Yon Son Zhang, of Palisades Park, N.J. - had met in Korea when Read was stationed there. The family had another child Stephen, now 11, and later divorced.

Her father later remarried another military officer - Navy Cmdr. Catherine M. Read - and settled in Annandale when Mary was in seventh grade. The couple had three children of their own - Mary's half-siblings Patrick, 4, Brendan, 2, and Colleen, 10 months. The lively brood made life in the tan Colonial in a Fairfax County cul-de-sac particularly boisterous, her grandmother said.

Former classmate Amir Abuelhawa said he recently spent the evening with Read when she was back in Annandale during Tech's spring break, watching the movie "V for Vendetta." They spent the evening catching up, "talking about everything - school life and work," he recalled. She was still deciding on her major, but he was hoping to become a D.C. police officer. In the slow parts of the movie they giggled about high school memories from band practice, since they both played the clarinet.

They made plans to reconnect when she came back home in a few months: "We had the entire summer," Abuelhawa said. "Now I can't see her anymore."

-- Annie Gowen, The Washington Post


From the family of Mary Read:
Mary Karen Read is a vibrant, beautiful daughter, sister, classmate and friend who found her highest calling in helping others and spreading joy and happiness. Her special gift in this life was her ability to spread happiness and cheer with an infectious smile, an unforgettable laugh and a keen sense of what others around her might need. Everybody loved Mary, and we still do, with all our breaking hearts and full souls.

Mary just turned 19 in January and was looking forward to the end of her freshman year at Tech and returning home to Annandale. Mary had big hopes and dreams, fueled by her abundant faith, her desire to work with children and her wide circle of friends and classmates from Annandale High School.

She was especially close to those she joined on the field as part of the Annandale Atoms marching band and color guard. They did everything together, and you seldom saw one of them without the others in tow. They were, and are, a close-knit group who have been devastated by this loss; it is the strength of their love and commitment to each other that is carrying them through and sustaining them.

Mary has three younger brothers and two little sisters, all of whom thinks she hung the moon. With them, Mary demonstrated the love and caring that drew her to Virginia Tech to study elementary education. When Mary left her dorm room on Monday morning for French class, it was as part of this larger desire to serve and help others, especially children.

We feel blessed that just this past weekend, Mary was home to visit and was able to spend time with her grandparents, brothers and sister, friends, and us. Mary learned how to make her favorite dessert, pumpkin pie, and her joy of life simply radiated from her, as it always has. Our faith, and hers, assures us that Mary is with her risen savior and our loved ones who have gone before us.

We who are left to wait for our future reunion want to express our profound gratitude to all those, too numerous to mention, who have helped us in large ways and small in this hour of grief. At the same time, we wait in joyful hope for that day when we reunite, beyond tears or sorrow.

Mary's memory on this earth lives with a far-flung network of family, friends and classmates from her short but vibrant and full life. To perpetuate her memory in a special and ongoing way, we intend to establish a scholarship in her name, with details to be determined later.

We again thank all those who have supported us materially with their love and prayers, and we ask all of you to continue to remember and raise up in your own way all the victims and families of this incomprehensible tragedy.

Thank you.

© 2007 The Washington Post Company