Mary Durden

Obituary of Mary Roy Ellerson Durden

Mary Roy Ellerson Durden, 83, of Charlotte, North Carolina, died peacefully at her home on September 17, 2023 with her loving family by her side. Molly was born on November 9, 1939, in Richmond, Virginia and was the daughter of the late Dr. Edmund Murdaugh Ellerson and Elsie Tucker Ellerson.

Molly spent her early years living in different cities around the country after her father joined the U.S. Army Medical Corps to serve our nation during the Second World War. After the war, the Ellersons settled back in Richmond, where Molly attended St. Catherine’s School. While attending St. Catherine’s, Molly made many life-long friends and also met her future husband, Nelson.

Molly attended St. Mary’s College in Raleigh, NC before transferring to Richmond Professional Institute (now Virginia Commonwealth University) where she received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree which honed her extraordinary talent for interior design. Molly was known far and wide for her ability to create exquisitely beautiful, nurturing environments.

After they were married, Molly and Nelson settled down in Hampton, Virginia. There they bought their first and only house, which quickly became Molly’s “decorating lab” and allowed her to test new ideas for decoration and interior design that she soon translated into a professional career through her business, D & D Designs. Molly was also very active in the community serving on numerous boards and in leadership positions for many organizations, including St. Catherine’s School, the Jamestown-Yorktown Educational Trust, the National Society of the Colonial Dames of America, St. John’s Church, the Hampton History Museum and the Garden Club of Virginia amongst others.

Even with her professional accomplishments and many contributions to the community, Molly will be most remembered and missed for her warm, larger-than-life personality, beauty and infectious laugh. She never met a stranger and loved to tell a story or hear a good joke. Most of all, she always strove to make sure that anyone she encountered felt comfortable and included, no matter what the situation. She was the consummate Southern belle, who hid her sharp intellect and “Steel Magnolia” toughness behind a warm and friendly exterior.

Despite her devotion to her friends, family always came first for Molly. Not only was she happily married to Nelson for sixty-two years, she was also a devoted and doting mother to her children, Ann and Ned, as well as her four grandchildren. She took great pride in their accomplishments and was always there when they needed a helping hand.

Molly is survived by her husband, Nelson Ticknor Durden; her daughter, Ann Tucker Durden Donovan; her son Edmund Nelson Durden and his wife Laura Hynes Durden; her grandchildren, St. George Tucker Donovan, Anne Tucker Lauzun Donovan, Jane Randolph Durden and Suzanne Page Durden; her sister, Elsie Ellerson Morris; as well as numerous nieces, nephews, cousins, and God children to whom she was devoted.

A funeral service will be held at St. John’s Church in Hampton, Virginia on November 18 at noon with a reception following at the Hampton Yacht Club.

Arrangements are under the direction of Hankins and Whittington Funeral Service, 1111 East Blvd., Charlotte, NC 28203.

Online condolences may be made at

To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Mary Durden, please visit Tribute Store
A Memorial Tree was planted for Mary
We are deeply sorry for your loss ~ the staff at Hankins and Whittington Funeral Services
Share Your Memory of