Mary Helen Roop Hosch, one of the longest-lived alumna of the Brenau Women’s College, died Tuesday. She was 103.
A member of the class of 1935, Hosch is best remembered for her support of the performing arts and donation of the Hosch Theatre. Opened in 2002, it is the largest performance space in the John S. Burd Center for the Performing Arts located at 429 Academy Street on the historic Gainesville campus.
Brenau President Ed Schrader said he remembers Hosch for her one-of-a-kind style and elegance.
“I remember her wearing a beautiful crystal spider brooch, which now just stands out to me as a symbol of her unique twist on style and grace,” Schrader said. “She was not afraid to do or try what others might be afraid of if she found it appropriate. She was sharp as a tack, 100 years intellectually ahead of her time, chic, and artistically unique – a distinctive Brenau woman. She is the perfect example of an independent Southern female who would be a role model and a standout leader in any decade, in any century. Beautiful inside and out.”
Hosch was born in Carrollton, Georgia, the only child of Superior Court Judge Charles E. Roop and Lula Long Roop. She attended Carrollton High School and was an honor graduate of Brenau Women’s College, where she was a member of Delta Delta Delta sorority.
In 2013, Hosch was interviewed by then-student Katie Barth, WC ’14. Barth asked Hosch why she picked Brenau, to which she replied, “I had to go to a women’s college in the state of Georgia, and it was the only one with sororities!”
As a student, Hosch majored in French and studied abroad, visiting dozens of destinations including Naples, Italy, Lisbon, Portugal, even Algeria in North Africa. But she was long known for her excellence on the piano, which she started playing at age 3, continued playing at Brenau and still played as a centenarian.
“I took piano forever,” she said in 2013 as she banged out It Had to Be You on the keys of her own baby grand. “And I still play every day.”
She was an active member and supporter of the First United Methodist Church of Gainesville, as well as an ardent benefactor of Brenau, being a generous contributor to various Brenau projects and a member of the Brenau Board of Trustees.
Memorial gifts may be made to the First United Methodist Church of Gainesville, Brenau University and Lanier Village Estates Samaritan Fund. A special memorial service for family and friends will be held at Lanier Village Estates Chapel, date and time pending.