Founders Focus: Mary Comfort
By Diane Hall, Fraternity Archivist
Mary Eleanor Comfort was born in Kosciusko, Mississippi, on January 22, 1856, the same day as her future friend, Anna Boyd. She was the daughter of Daniel Benjamin Comfort and Eliza Love Durham. Eliza passed at the age of 22 when Mary was still a young child. Daniel would then marry Eliza’s sister. All together, Mary had 12 siblings and they referred to her by the nickname “Mac-Ellen”. Like her friend Anna, Mary’s family was relatively well-off which allowed them to send her to get an education at the Lewis School in Oxford, Mississippi. She would spend three years at this women’s educational institution. It was here during the winter season that poor weather prevented her, Anna, and their friend Eva from returning to their hometown for the holidays. It was then that the three friends decided to form a society “for mutual helpfulness.” They chose the Greek letters Delta and Gamma to stand for do good.
She married Charles H. Leonard in 1880. They relocated to Tennessee where they both worked as teachers. Just a few years later Charles’ health began to decline and the couple moved to Florida where he passed away in 1887. They had three sons, Cecil, William and Herbert. After he husband’s passing Mary returned to Kosciusko where she continued teaching for 16 years. She would live to see her granddaughter initiated as a Delta Gamma. Mary passed away on August 4, 1940, and was remembered fondly in her community by the generation of students she taught.
About Delta Gamma: Delta Gamma Fraternity was founded in 1873 in Oxford, Mississippi at the Lewis School for Girls by three young women: Anna Boyd, Mary Comfort and Eva Webb. Founded before the term sorority was used, our fraternity has since grown into one of the largest international women's organizations with more than 260,000 members, 150 collegiate chapters and 190 alumnae groups.
With Delta Gamma’s founding, Anna, Mary and Eva helped spark a movement to create safe and empowering communities for women on college campuses. We still make that space for each other today, through a culture of belonging, a promise to empower and a commitment to put our purpose into practice.