WILDWOOD, Ga.—Mary Petruska, 63, died late Monday night, May 16, 2016, at her Wildwood home. She had been diagnosed with cancer on Christmas Day and had been under hospice care since then. She was attended day and night at the end by her brother and sister-in-law, Charlie and Joan Petruska.
Mary was born in Troy, New York, the youngest child of the late Andrew and Catherine Whiting Petruska. He owned a sporting goods store where Mary worked as a girl and where she formed her teen passion of skiing. But after she left home to study art at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, her life was centered in New York City.
There she was among the generation of young artists who fixed up and worked out of lofts in the Flower District of Manhattan. Except for a year studying art in Italy, Mary lived in hers continuously from her 20s until the building was purchased—and its residents given the push—in 2002.
That’s how Mary came to Chattanooga, where she had friends from New York, and from there ultimately to Wildwood, where she rented a venerable farmhouse on the old Dave L. Brown estate, the big sky, green woods and lush fields of which figure prominently in her “Georgia series” of paintings. Those and Mary’s other paintings can still be seen at marypetruska.com.
Besides painting, Mary was for a time in New York a fabric artist whose handcrafted scarves and other garments were sold internationally. She also worked throughout her life in New York as well in the Chattanooga area as a graphic designer, for clients as diverse as Lehman Brothers and local real estate brokers.
In Dade, Mary volunteered with the Trenton Arts Council and Trenton Tree City. She loved to give parties at the Wildwood farm and prided herself on using them to bring together people from all the far-flung spheres of her life.
She leaves behind her partner of over 30 years, Bob Dombrowski, Wildwood; and brothers Charles, Michael and David Petruska and their wives, children and grandchildren, now scattered across the United States and Europe.
The remains will be cremated by Companion Funeral Home in Cleveland, Tenn. A celebtration of Mary's life will be held at Katie and Keith Bien’s Wildwood farm, next door to Mary’s, date to be announced.