Our Community - Mary Stephenson - "Geo-GRAPHIC-ally at home in San Pedro"

The Island Newspaper, Ambergris Caye, Belize            Vol. 10, No. 36            September 7, 2000

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Mary Stephenson

One of the unique qualities of San Pedro and Belize is the different people, from different places, that come together to make one family. Today, San Pedro comprises of  descendants of the founders of San Pedro Town, Belizeans from throughout the country, investors from all parts of the world, immigrants and retirees. Whether a born Sanpedrano or a Sanpedrano by choice, the majority of people that make up San Pedro have one thing in common - the well-being of this island. This is the case of this week's personality who has easily adapted to the lifestyle of the island, which today she calls home sweet home - Ms. Mary Stephenson.

    As a young child, Mary lived in several towns in Texas and Mississippi due to her father's business. After school, she went to work in many types of positions, including owning an entertainment newspaper, before settling into Property Management. Mary started as a leasing agent and worked her way up the ladder to Regional Vice President, keeping watch over an entire quarter of the US for Integrated Resources, a New York-based financial company. During this time, she was responsible for over 700 employees and 60 multi-residential/commercial properties with a unit count of almost 20,000, including restaurants, office buildings, etc. Mary also acquired the industry's respected designation of Certified Property Manager (CPM). Feeling that she had reached her goals in Property Management, she wanted to experience new challenges and she and a partner developed an export company handling mahogany from Honduras. The last two careers exposed her to the world of computers, before computers were "in," and gave her the background and interest that she applies today.

    Mary first visited Belize with her mother, Jane McCarver, in the late 1980s. As humorous as it may sound, what interested Mary and Ms. McCarver in Belize was an article in Time magazine about the Pier Lounge Chicken Drop. Belize, being one of the last unspoiled places in the world, and the Chicken Drop article convinced mother and daughter to travel here. Mary felt love at first sight in San Pedro saying, "I know a lot of people come here and fall in love with the place right away but I have lived a lot of places overseas; I immediately recognized the difference here." After returning to the USA, she started making plans to move here and five years later, her dreams became reality when she relocated to San Pedro, in 1995. Mary had two ideas of how she planned to make a living, one being a wedding coordinator and the other a graphic design artist. The second type of business, Gecko Graphics, already existed in San Pedro. As fate would have it, by the time her house was completed and she was ready to start working, this business was on the market. In September of 1996, Mary bought the company and has since been providing reliable, professional and personalized service. She and her loyal worker, Erica, make up the staff of Gecko Graphics - the oldest graphic design company in San Pedro.

    Mary is the mother of one son and has three grandchildren. To her credit, Mary has also worked as a professional artist, creating pottery, sculptures and commissioned portraits. She was an avid scuba diver and one of the fortunate few to have dove with Jacques Cousteau. Mary was one of three women who formed the Diving Dames - the first Women Scuba Diving Club in the USA. In San Pedro, Mary has become very involved with the community and is presently a member of the San Pedro Police/Citizens Committee and the treasurer of the South End Neighborhood Watch. She has donated her work to the police department and different schools in San Pedro and claims she will continue to do so in the future. 

    In speaking her feelings regarding San Pedro and its people, Mary said, "I feel as if I was born here. The people here are my family. It's home. San Pedro is a utopia. It is a small town that has its ups and downs like anywhere else. What impresses me the most is that when someone is in trouble, everyone helps. San Pedro has the qualities that small towns in the USA had 50 to 100 years ago."

    Mary Stephenson makes certain Gecko Graphics keeps with the times, by expanding services to meet the growing needs of the community. She is a down-to-earth professional and through her business and kind disposition has made a positive "imprint" in Our Community."

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