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Mary Louise Bosco joined the Army after the U.S. entered World War II and afterward spent the rest of her life working for a more peaceful, just and healthy world.

“She was what you would call a classic activist,” said son Doug Bosco, a Santa Rosa attorney, businessman and former North Coast congressman.

“I think all of our family got our political activism from her — but she was far more active than the rest of us.”

Mary Bosco, a descendant of Edgar Allen Poe and a fine poet herself, marched against war and lived a simple life as a demonstration of how to impose little impact on the environment.

When she died Saturday at the Santa Rosa senior residence that was her home the past three years, she left behind the small, thriving garden that was one of the quiet joys of her life. She was 96.

Bosco settled in Santa Rosa in the 1980s, after her marriage to fellow World War II veteran Harry Bosco ended in divorce. They had four children.

The two met on a military airplane in 1944. Harry Bosco was a paratrooper and Mary Louise Poe was doing clerical work related to recruitment.

They married that same year in New York City. More than a decade after the war, in 1957, the Boscos came to California and made their home in Los Altos, where they raised their family.

The former Mary Poe was born in 1920 in McComb, Ohio. The Great Depression was on when a farm accident killed her father, Stanley Poe. She and her mother and four sisters learned to get by with little.

That experience and her Army service set the future Mary Bosco on a course to tread gently on the earth and to do what she could to stop or prevent war.

She was active in Beyond War and worked to reverse global warming.

Bosco suffered a terrible loss in 1991 when one of her three daughters, Carroll Knechtle, succumbed to breast cancer at age 40.

“My mother never got over that,” Doug Bosco said. “She had a sadness in her being from that time on.”

And yet Mary Bosco continued to find happiness in her large family and her friends, her garden, her poetry and her activism for a better world.

“She loved Mother Nature and she was a great naturalist and read extensively on climate change and conserving of resources,” Doug Bosco said. “She was really quite expert in it.”

Mary Bosco’s son said one gift she left her family was very few possessions to deal with. “She believed in a small footprint,” he said.

Doug Bosco said also that he’s grateful to his mother for allowing him “to be a son for a long time.

“When you’re a son, you kind of feel young,” he said. “There is someone above you on the chain of things.”

In addition to her son in Santa Rosa, Mary Bosco is survived by daughters Robin Atherton of Saratoga and Barbara Bergstrom of Reno, 11 grandchildren and 22 great-grandchildren. There will be a family gathering to celebrate her life.

Memorial contributions are suggested to Memorial Hospice, 439 College Ave., Santa Rosa 95401.

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