April 30, 1945 ~ July 18, 2020

Born in: Wheeling, WV
Resided in: Cumming, GA

Dr. Mary Witham Armsworth (Mary Vivian Gosnell), loving Mother, Grandmother, Soulmate, Sister, Aunt, Professor, and Friend, peacefully passed away in her home surrounded by family on July 18, 2020. Mary was born in Wheeling, West Virginia, on April 30, 1945, to parents Orval and Wanda Gosnell. She spent her childhood years in Dillonvale, Ohio, where she graduated salutatorian from Dillonvale High School.

Mary earned her bachelor’s degree in Vocational Education from Ohio University and then went on to earn her master’s and doctoral degrees in counseling from the University of Cincinnati, where her focus became trauma and grief. Mary was a longtime, highly recognized professor at the University of Houston in Houston, Texas. She also maintained a private practice serving post-trauma adults. Mary earned the long-term admiration and friendship of so many of her students and colleagues over her teaching years having dedicated her career to helping others. In addition, Mary was very well respected in her field earning the Enron Teaching Excellence Award as well as speaking before the U.S. Congress about the topics of aging and trauma.

Following her retirement, Mary relocated to Cumming, Georgia, with her daughter and family in 2012 and quickly re-connected with lifelong friends and the love of her life, Aksel. They were able to travel to Texas, New York, and Ohio, as well as make lasting memories across North Georgia.

Mary is preceded in death by her father, Orval Gosnell; her mother, Wanda Gosnell; and her sister, Sarah Novak. Mary is survived by her son, Michael Witham; daughter, Anne Gibson; son-in-law, Ryan Gibson; two wonderful grandsons, Grant and Isaac Gibson; brother, Orval Gosnell; brother-in-law, Dr. Joseph Novak; many nieces and nephews; her soulmate, Aksel; and countless friends and students, with whom she left a lifelong impact.

While it is currently difficult for all of us to gather together in large groups, a Celebration of Life ceremony will be held in the near future. Please share any memories and loving words about Mary on this website.

In lieu of flowers, the family would suggest donations be made to The Place of Forsyth County, Inc. (theplaceofforsyth.org). This organization helps local families with basic necessities and support, fulfilling Mary’s lifelong passion for the wellness of people.

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  1. I’ll get the memories and thoughts started…. As some of you know, I was out of town when Anne went into premature labor with Grant six weeks early. I asked her if I should fly home on the last flight out of Baltimore to Houston at 6:00 pm, and she said no, it’s just false labor pains. At 10:00 that night, she called Mary to come over – and after one look at Anne, Mary called the ambulance to get her to the hospital. Mary was by her side as Grant was born at 2:00 that morning. Even though I missed it, she was a great stand-in and a rock for Anne as usual! Mary (Grammy) was a loving grandmother to Grant and Isaac and will always be loved and cherished!

  2. CandleImageOnly got to know Mary from our Sunday School class. I could tell she was a special lady and I empathized with her struggles later in her life as my Mom dealt with many of the same issues. Prayers for God’s comfort in this tough time.

  3. CandleImageAlbert and I frequently sat next to Mary in the Grace class. While I knew she was a retired college professor, I had no idea of the depth and breadth of her work! I can see she would be an excellent trauma counselor – quiet, patient, listening carefully to what is said. Even after her diagnosis, she kept coming to Sunday school – at first on her own, and later Anne came with her and got to experience our wild, wacky and opinionated group. Eventually we will all get back together, and we will miss her.

  4. CandleImageI loved having her as a neighbor & friend. I’ll always remember the smile on her face when I would bring our puppy, Ruby to see her. Or if we were out & she & Mr. Aksel would stop & that smile was again on her face.
    Another precious memory is Thanksgiving with our family in 2018.
    Rest In Peace Sweet Mary!!

  5. Mary, Sweet Mary, I can’t imagine not seeing your sweet face as I go
    into the Gibson Home. I love you and will miss you. Gods with you
    and we have your warm precious memories.

  6. Mary was a gentle soul and you could just tell how devoted she was to other people and her family. She would have made a wonderful Stephen Minister. Blessings always.

  7. CandleImageDr. Armsworth epitomized everything a Therapist/Professor should be.
    She was a truly genuine, caring person, who treated others with respect and kindness.
    She had a sense of humor and dry wit that was unforgettable.
    Dr. Armsworth was a remarkable woman who touched many lives and we are better people for having known her.

  8. Dr. Armsworth – she was one of my graduate professors at University of Houston -sharp wit, dry humor, compassion, and encouragement through tough classes and subjects, especially trauma. She guided us to be there for others through the unimaginable. I learned so much from her and I am so grateful to her – she left poetry on earth through her actions and compassion.

    • My deepest condolences to Mary’s family. She was a very special person and an excellent mentor in grad school. She introduced me to professional conferences and I have many fond memories of attending with her over the years and continuing to learn both from her and with her as a friend and colleague. Although we lost touch when she moved to Georgia, it is comforting to to hear that she found happiness and fulfillment in her life there. She will be fondly remembered and missed.

  9. CandleImageDr. Armsworth was an amazing human being! I am blessed to have had her as a professor in graduate school. She made an everlasting impact on my life. I am thankful to have known her.

  10. I will always remember Mary as such a kind, gentle soul. I knew her best as “Anne’s Mom”, and got the pleasure of knowing her through Anne. I too remember her quick, sly wit, many times just snuck in there so quickly I almost missed it! She welcomed all of us friends into her home, and was always such a comforting presence. I’m so thankful to have known her, and especially thankful that those wonderful traits have passed along to her children who will carry her spirit onward. My deepest condolences to all who loved her.

  11. I will always remember Mary as such a kind, gentle soul. I knew her best as “Anne’s Mom”, and got the pleasure of knowing her through Anne. I too remember her quick, sly wit, many times just snuck in there so quickly I almost missed it! She welcomed all of us friends into her home, and was just such a comforting presence. I’m so thankful to have known her, and especially thankful that those wonderful traits have passed along to her children who will carry her spirit onward. My deepest condolences to all who loved her.

  12. 1 Thessalonians 4: 13, 14

    Moreover, brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant* about those who are sleeping in death,+ so that you may not sorrow as the rest do who have no hope.+ 14 For if we have faith that Jesus died and rose again,+ so too God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep in death through Jesus.+

  13. CandleImageIt is with a heart of love & gratitude that I will always remember Dr Mary Armsworth. She was my beloved professor, advisor, mentor, and soul friend. Mary made me laugh so many times and steadily pushed me to be my best. I am so grateful to her family and Aksel for taking such amazing loving care of her; you loved her all the way home.

  14. CandleImageAlthough Mary and I were at the University of Cincinnati at the same time, I did not now her then. It was only after moving to Georgia that I came to know Mary, her daughter, Anne, and her daughter’s family. What was clear to me was that Mary was a very special person. She had a softness and gentleness about her. Early on, she moved from living alone to living in a cocoon of love within her daughter’s family and home. This ensured the last few years of her life were spent in beautiful surroundings. There, in an unbelievable twist of fate, Mary became a participant in one of the greatest love stories I have ever imagined or witnessed. She reconnected with Aksel, a Texas friend, who moved to Georgia to be with her and who did everything possible to ensure Mary’s later years were the most positive and rewarding that they could be. What is so amazing about this is that Mary found the love of her life while struggling with an awful illness that slowly stole words from her and eventually led to her passing. Smiles, hugs, and gestures became her new means of communicating. Aksel, always there by her side, spent his days anticipating her needs and unexpressed words, and being an ever-loving and calming force. Anne could not have been a better, more loving daughter to her mom. Ryan could not have been a better provider or son-in-law. An awful situation was made strangely ideal,…through love, through family.

    Mary will always have a place in my heart. More than any other person I’ve ever known, she knew how to give and find love during an extremely difficult and challenging time. No other love stories can compete with what Mary and Aksel created. I’m sure it was through a life-time of giving and loving that Mary created what I witnessed her last few years with us. I could not be around her and Anne or Aksel without feeling an ambiance of love. This is how I will always remember my dear friend, Mary.

  15. Aunt Vivie’s academic achievements were impressive. She did reinvention before it was a thing. But her highest achievement was her kindness and the devotion she inspired in those around her. I will miss her.

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