Building Zonta in the 21st Century - Inspired by the Challenge of Change

This was Past International President Mary Magee’s theme for the 2000-2002 Biennium. On Tuesday, 6 October 2020, at age 84, Mary passed away in Brisbane, Australia.

Mary Magee joined the Zonta Club of Brisbane in December 1973 at the invitation of now Past International President Leneen Forde. Five years later, she was elected as club president and went on to serve as Area Director, chairman of various district committees, Lieutenant Governor, and Governor.

She was elected to the Zonta International Board in 1994 and, for the next eight years, served in successive positions in the hierarchy until she was elected as International President in 2000, the third Australian to be elected to that position – and the second from the Zonta Club of Brisbane.

Throughout those first 30 years in Zonta, Mary drove the establishment of new clubs with her trademark passion and exuberance. She was directly involved in establishing 20 clubs in Australia and another 20 clubs elsewhere in the Zonta world.

Mary was the eldest of three girls. Her parents valued the education of girls, which was unusual for that time. Mary’s father wanted her to be a doctor, but both her grandfather and her aunt were pharmacists and, inspired by her aunt’s independence and autonomy, Mary decided, at the age of 12, that she, too, would be a pharmacist.

Mary graduated as a pharmacist in 1955 at the age of 19 but was unable to register until the age of 21. As soon as she was registered, she set her sights on owning her own pharmacy. She achieved this goal in 1959 at the age of just 23 when she opened the Alexandra Pharmacy, becoming the first woman to own a pharmacy in the Brisbane central business district.

In addition to her profession and Zonta, Mary was committed to the work of the Red Cross, the Brain Foundation, the Breast Cancer Foundation, the State workplace health and safety committee, the State Confederation of Commerce and Industry, UNIFEM, the Western Suburbs Wildlife Preservation Society and the Johnsonian Literary Club.

With Mary’s passing, the entire Zonta International community lost an influential and dedicated leader who contributed greatly to Zonta International. She truly made a difference for women and girls, including the members of Zonta International, and will be remembered fondly by all those who had the privilege to know her.

09 October 2020

PIP Mary Magee (front, left of center) with the members of the International Board at the 2000 Convention in Honolulu, Hawaii, USA.