NORMAN — After battling ovarian cancer for several months, Mary Colette (Hill) Wallace passed away peacefully at home early on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 28, 2013.
An amazing person and woman, she learned to play piano, sing, sew, crochet, knit, do leatherwork, calligraphy and bookbinding. She loved music and books, enjoyed reading and writing, knitting and making art — fiber, mixed-media, painting, sketching, drawing, clay sculpting and architectural model building. She had a goofy and wry sense of humor, enjoyed PBS murder mysteries, old black and white movies, cooking and gardening TV shows and solving puzzles — crossword, Sudoku, jigsaw. Singing, her first passion, gave her joy much of her life.
Born Aug. 29, 1953, in Ft. Smith, Ark., to William Page and Lula Coleen Hill, their eldest daughter and second of five children, she grew up in and around Altus. Early on, she showed an aptitude for drawing, painting, writing and had an innate talent for music — playing piano at age 8, later singing in junior high glee club and high school and church choirs. A soprano, she sang at weddings, funerals, gave recitals and aspired to be an opera singer.
Graduating from Altus High School in 1971 with a vocal music scholarship to Southwestern Oklahoma State University in Weatherford, she performed in choirs, musicals and operatic productions and also studied French, Italian, German and Latin. In 1973, she married, briefly attended North Texas State University School of Music in Denton, then divorced and in 1974 moved to Oklahoma City to continue her singing studies at Oklahoma City University. In college, she was a member of Mu Phi Epsilon.
Moving to New York City in 1975 to seek new life experiences, voice training and explore her artistic and handcraft talents, she lived in East Village, East Bronx and Rose Hill/Nomad areas and worked for a coffee distributor, an export company, retailers, Saks Fifth Avenue and, in a partnership, designed and sold handmade knitted-wear. Colette loved NYC — the experience, culture and environs. In 1982, severely injured in an automobile accident, an undiagnosed heart condition was discovered and she had a near-death experience that profoundly changed her. She returned to Altus and soon with a pacemaker implanted, feeling reborn and energized, embarked on a new life path — a spiritual journey exploring Western and Eastern beliefs, philosophies and religions, including Christianity. She also opened a bookbinding and restoration business.