Mary Young dies at 92

Longtime Emerald Bay resident Mary Young passed away at the age of 92 in the early morning hours on Dec. 6 at her home. Her husband of more than 70 years, Laguna Beach builder and longtime Festival of Arts board member David Young, was with her.

A memorial service is planned for 2 p.m. Sunday , Dec. 16 in the Forum Theater on the grounds of the Festival of Arts, 650 Laguna Canyon Road, Laguna Beach.

Born Mary Williams on August 9, 1915, in Jefferson Barracks, Missouri, she was the youngest of three daughters of an Army colonel in the cavalry. Mary graduated from high school in San Antonio, Texas, and it was there that she met David Young.

Following graduation, Mary joined her mother and two aunts on a year-long trip around the world by steamship. Not long after her return, she and David Young were married, in August, 1937.


Initially settling in Memphis, Tennessee, the Youngs moved around during the war years and first came to Laguna Beach in 1945. They had come for a two-week visit, but they ended up making Laguna their permanent residence. Their four children all graduated from Laguna Beach High School.

Mary Young had a lifelong interest in art, and took art classes with Roger Armstrong and well-known local artist and instructor Rex Brandt. She went on a painting expedition to Hawaii with local artist George Post and also painted with noted landscape artist Millard Sheets.

Sculpting, however, largely self-taught, would become her artistic passion. She frequently donated her artworks for fundraisers by various local charities and exhibited her works in local galleries. Although her husband was active on the board of the Laguna Beach Festival of Arts for more than 50 years, Mary Young was never an exhibitor in the Festival.

She was involved for many years with the Ebell Club and with various other community charities, and remained active in support of her husband’s many civic and business activities. 


Mary Young obtained a pilot’s license at what was then Orange County Airport. She had been taking lessons secretly while her husband was also taking flying lessons, and got her license before he did. The family took regular flights up and down the coast.

Mary and David Young celebrated their 70th anniversary in August, 2007.  

Mary Young is survived by her husband, and three children: Nelly Bly Cogan of Oxford, Ohio; Suzy Papanikolas of Hilo, Hawaii; and Robin Young of Laguna Beach. There are seven grandchildren and 14 great grandchildren.

In lieu of flowers, the family has suggested a donation to the Peter Young Scholarship Fund at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. A scholarship program for disadvantaged students, it was set up in honor of the Youngs’ fourth child, Peter, who died in a car accident while attending school at Cal Poly.