American University of Beirut

The Passing of Mary Jones - Long-time Debs Center Employee

​Mary Jones of the American University of Beirut’s New York Office—the Debs Center-- passed away on Christmas morning 2020. Born on May 19,1956 in New York City, she leaves behind a wide circle of grieving friends and family members. Mary joined AUB in December 1995, following work in the corporate world at Swiss Bank. She started as a data entry temp and was quickly appointed to a full-time position as the office’s only data specialist. Over her more than two decades of employment with AUB, Mary made many trips to AUB’s main campus in Beirut as the university’s data operations grew exponentially.

While her professional abilities were impressive, Mary was much more than a competent data professional. Beloved and treasured by her colleagues in both New York and Beirut, Mary had a flair for fashion, food, and events, creating elegance at AUB international workshops, conferences, board meetings, and galas. Her garden of exotic plants continues to thrive on every windowsill and surface of the New York Office.  

One of nine children, Mary so closely resembled her identical twin sister Martha Saunders that even long-time friends could not tell them apart. A woman of deep faith with strong family connections, Mary is survived by many close family members, including her twin sister Martha, brother-in-law Lamont, niece Danielle, and nephew Idris.

To honor Mary and her extraordinary dedication to AUB, her colleagues and friends established the Mary Jones Memorial Award. It will be presented at Commencement each year to a graduating student who exemplifies outstanding commitment to community service and volunteerism - values that Mary so faithfully embodied during her years with AUB. If you would like to support this initiative, please email Alexandra Tohme ( or Soha Hmaidan ( Thank you!

Mary with Vice President of Development Imad Baalbaki and Associate Director of Development Nada Charara

Mary with colleagues Administrative Assistant Brigid Connell and Assitant to the Secretary of the University Lindsey Terry

Mary's plants on the office windowsill

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