All of us here at FRAXA were very sad to learn that Mary Higgins Clark passed away on January 31, 2020, at the age of 92.
Mary Higgins Clark was a tireless champion for Fragile X research. Mary put FRAXA on the map in 1997 when she made a $1 million donation over five years to solve the mystery of Fragile X (her words), in honor of her grandson, David Clark. At a time when FRAXA was just a few years into operations, her support was an enormous boost to the entire Fragile X community.
Over the next decade, Mary traveled around the country, gracing FRAXA fundraising events in Boston, New York, Washington DC, Chicago, Pittsburgh, and Newport Coast, CA. At every event she loved to talk with everyone, sharing wonderful stories about her grandson with love, pride, and sparkle. She also shared some of her ideas for her next books, which was fascinating! Mary was “Queen of Suspense” and she knew how to keep readers turning pages late into the night.
Mary Higgins Clark inspired her entire family to jump in to further FRAXA’s cause, including husband John Conheeney, son Dave Clark (a former member of FRAXA’s board of directors), daughter-in-law Mary Jane Clark (writer of suspense novels and a former member of FRAXA’s board), daughters Carol Higgins Clark (an actress and writer), and Marilyn Clark (a judge), and granddaughter Elizabeth Clark (also an actress and writer).
Mary was a member of FRAXA’s Honorary Board. We were truly honored to know her and to learn from her, and we will miss her greatly.
After her son Andy was diagnosed with Fragile X, Katie, her husband Michael Tranfaglia, and a third parent founded FRAXA Research Foundation. She has served as FRAXA’s executive director since 1994. Katie has a BA in History from Harvard and an MA in Computer Science from UNC Chapel Hill. She worked as a software engineer and instructor in computer science before FRAXA. She spends lots of time with Andy on his favorite daily activities, recycling and visiting the local library.