Mary Huger Manigault Wilcox Horlbeck, 91, beloved wife of the late John Miles Horlbeck, died on Tuesday, July 13, 2021, at her home in Mount Pleasant, S.C. A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Friday, July 16, 2021, at the Huguenot Church in Charleston, followed by a reception at the Huguenot Heritage Hall at 44 Queen St. Visitation is from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday in J. Henry Stuhr, Inc. Downtown Chapel, 232 Calhoun Street. Memorials may be made to Keeper of the Wild, 1606 Cooler's Dairy Road, Walterboro, S.C. 29488.
Mrs. Horlbeck was born July 5, 1930, in New London, Conn., a daughter of Caroline Manigault Wilcox and Rear Admiral John Walter Wilcox. As a child, she attended elementary schools in various parts of the United States and in the Panama Canal Zone. She attended high school at Ashley Hall School in Charleston and was a graduate of Hollins College.
Mary is survived by her four children: John Wilcox Horlbeck of Charleston; Peter Miles Horlbeck (Laura) of Charleston; Frederick Henry Horlbeck III of Columbia; and Caroline Horlbeck Atkinson (Dean) of Greenville; and five grandchildren: Daniel Wilcox Horlbeck; William Baker Horlbeck; John Eugene Horlbeck (Abby); Mary Dove Horlbeck Murray (Micah); and Henry Grigsby Horlbeck. In addition to her husband and her parents, family members who preceded Mary in death included her brother and sister-in-law, Mr. and Mrs. Arthur M. Wilcox of Charleston; and a daughter-in-law, Gretchen Baker Horlbeck.
Mary will be remembered as a loving mother and grandmother who encouraged those around her to make the most of life. An energetic and skilled homemaker, she was also an avid reader and a faithful believer in the Word of God. With her husband's blessing, she insisted on sending their children to private schools. All four earned college degrees and went on to careers in diverse areas of endeavor, including military service, education, engineering, journalism and law.
Mary was a member of St. Philip's Episcopal Church for many years, and later she and her husband attended the Huguenot Church of Charleston. Mary and John also were active members of the Huguenot Society of South Carolina, with Mary serving as an editor of the Huguenot Transactions publication. As something of a history buff with deep roots in South Carolina, Mary enjoyed visiting historic sites. And, as the daughter of a career Navy officer, she nurtured a lifelong respect for all branches of the U.S. military. But the U.S. Navy was her favorite, and in later years she enjoyed sharing her childhood memories of the peacetime Navy of the 1930s, including military pageantry, shipboard birthday parties with other Navy children, and relocations that took Mary and her family to various parts of the United States and as far abroad as Panama, which she would later describe with joy in the memory of a place she found to be so beautiful.
But for all the variety of her life as the daughter of a Naval officer, Mary never got far from the fact that attention to duty is of paramount importance - a reality underscored when her father was lost at sea in the North Atlantic in March 1942. Mary, then 11 years old, learned of his death when Navy officers came to the family's home and notified her mother. Because of the need to keep the Germans in the dark as to the status of the force that had been under the admiral's command, neither the Navy nor the family could immediately reveal news of his death. For two weeks, until the family received clearance from the Navy, Mary faced the duty of continuing to attend school as if nothing had happened, saying nothing of her father's fate. Throughout the rest of her life, she rarely spoke of it, except when asked direct questions concerning his service during World War II. Then, and only then, would she tell the tale, speaking pleasantly yet keeping her account brief and strictly factual.
Upon completing college, Mary returned to Charleston and worked for a while at the News & Courier, assisting in the production of the newspaper's fashion section. In 1953, she married Mr. Horlbeck, a World War II Navy veteran and a graduate of Yale University and the University of Virginia School of Law. In addition to raising four children, John and Mary saw to the improvement and remodeling of John's family home in Mount Pleasant, S.C., first renovating an attached kitchen house in 1973 and then renovating the main house some years later. In both cases, Mary guided the details of interior design, working closely with architects and contractors, selecting colors, fabrics and appliances, and ultimately turning the old house into a lovely, comfortable home. For years she maintained the family's harborside household with the help of long-time family friend and home care assistant Lucile Bell of Charleston. She enjoyed opening the house to visitors and stayed active for as long as her health permitted, after which she continued to live at home, a focal point of love and care for family and friends.