Mary Creety (Nikas) Beery
Mary Creety (Nikas) Beery, former Hambidge Center director, died June 28, 2018 in Atlanta at the age of 91.
Born in Atlanta in 1927 to Greek immigrant parents, Savas and Efimia Creety, Mary attended Atlanta Girls High and Wesleyan College in Macon, graduating with a BFA from the University of North Carolina, Greensboro in 1948.
After teaching art at O’Keefe High School in Atlanta, Mary began her career in commercial interior design in 1954. She soon formed her own design firm, Interiors for Business, which she later sold to Atlanta architectural firm, Heery & Heery.
An artist in her own right, Mary was an impassioned advocate for the arts throughout her life. With fellow artists, she was instrumental in the formation of the annual Atlanta Arts Festival in 1953 and continued to volunteer her services to the Festival through 1968.
In1973, Mary accepted the position of Director of the Hambidge Center from the Center’s founder, Mary Hambidge. As the Center’s first director, a position she held until 1985, Mary worked tirelessly to continue Mary Hambidge’s vision, ensuring that the Center’s workshops, seminars and artists residency programs continued and expanded. She considered her time as Director of the Center to be her greatest contribution to the arts. Many of the alumni of the Center found the inspiration and support they needed to accomplish their work in the nurturing environment it provided and with the individual encouragement they received from Mary.
After her marriage to Lawrence Beery in 1988, Mary moved to Lake Wales, Florida, where she became an active member of the community, including her participation in the Lake Wales AAUW, Arts Council, and Literacy Council. During her term as President of the AAUW, she founded the “Art in the Schools” project to exhibit works of art in the local public and charter schools on a rotating basis, giving children daily familiarity with art. Mary and Larry were happily married until his death in 2008.
She is survived by two children from her first marriage, Katherine Nikas Light and George Nikas, her brother Michael Creety, and many friends. A memorial gathering will take place at a future date. Contributions may be made to the Hambidge Center or to the Lake Wales Arts Council.