Mary McVay Spaulding, 81, a former Capitol Hill staffer, died Nov. 21 of heart disease at The Fairfax retirement home at Fort Belvoir.

Mrs. Spaulding was born in Buffalo and grew up in Cleveland and Buffalo. She attended Mercyhurst College in Erie, Pa., before enlisting in the Marine Corps Women's Reserve during World War II. She was stationed at Camp Lejeune, N.C., and was driving officers in the motor pool when she met her future husband, Jack Douglas Spaulding.

After their marriage in 1945, they lived on Marine bases across the country. In 1966, her husband, a Marine lieutenant colonel, died in the Vietnam War. Mrs. Spaulding then raised seven children on her own.

She taught second grade at Flint Hill Elementary School in Vienna for a year in the late 1960s and in 1970 received a bachelor's degree from George Mason College of the University of Virginia (now George Mason University).

Mrs. Spaulding began her Capitol Hill career in the office of the House journal clerk. In the 1970s, she worked for Rep. John B. Anderson (R-Ill.) and for William L. Armstrong (R), a representative and later a senator from Colorado. Mrs. Spaulding retired from Capitol Hill in 1979.

She lived in Englewood, Fla., for several years in the early 1980s, working as a legal secretary. She then moved to Alexandria, where she worked briefly for Benoit Realty.

She was active in the Pax community, an independent Catholic group in Northern Virginia.

She enjoyed reading poetry and novels and was a prolific watercolor painter. She had a vacation home in Slaughter Beach, Del., and traveled to China, New Zealand, Hawaii and other places.

Survivors include her seven children, Julia M. Paradis of Alexandria, Douglas K. Spaulding of Burke, Mark E. Spaulding and Gregory G. Spaulding, both of Santa Rosa, Calif., Suzanne E. Spaulding of McLean, Andrew D. Spaulding of Los Angeles and Paul L. Spaulding of Chester, Va.; two sisters, Ruth M. Beik of State College, Pa., and Helen M. Brush of Hemet, Calif.; a brother, Donald H. McVay Jr. of Dumfries; 12 grandchildren; and six great-grandsons.

Mary McVay Spaulding was in the Marine Corps Women's Reserve during World War II. She met her husband while driving officers in the motor pool at Camp Lejeune.