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Honoring the Passing of AUA Pillar, Mary Pitts

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The American University of Armenia (AUA) is deeply saddened to announce the passing of AUA Pillar, Mary Pitts, a remarkable philanthropist and individual who will be remembered for her steadfast support of AUA.

Mary Santoro Pitts unexpectedly but quietly passed away on May 24. She was a touchstone and central force for her loving and devoted family, and also for her many friends. Born in New York City on October 2, 1940, to Annarosa (Mamoliti) and Nicholas Paul Santoro, she grew up in Tenafly, New Jersey, and received her higher education at Hood College, NYU and Columbia. Mary earned her MA in teaching French at Columbia and also an MFA in Photography at San Francisco State University. Her work includes a series of Mothers and Daughters, which was shown in the Bibliothèque Nationale de France in Paris. 

For the past 25 years, Pitts  focused intensely on the San Francisco Botanical Garden, for many years as a docent and for the past six years as a member of the SFBG Society’s Board of Directors. She  was passionate about the Garden’s role in teaching ecology and biodiversity, and its being a living museum of plants and trees. She both believed and taught the ‘web of life’.  

Pitts is survived by her husband Lawrence Pitts; her daughter Jennifer Pitts, son-in-law Sankar Muthu, and grandchildren Lucia and Nicholas, who live in Chicago; and her son John, who lives in London; her nieces Alyce Santoro, Anne Pitts Londergan, and Caroline Adams Pitts; and her nephew Michael Pitts. Pitts was a joyous, generous, excited, engaged and loving wife, mother, and friend. All of us whom she loved and who loved her miss her dearly.

The legacy of Mary Pitts will stay at AUA, empowering many deserving students to receive the education they need to become the future leaders of Armenia. 

Founded in 1991, the American University of Armenia (AUA) is a private, independent university located in Yerevan, Armenia, affiliated with the University of California, and accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission in the United States. AUA provides local and international students with Western-style education through top-quality undergraduate, graduate, and certificate programs, promotes research and innovation, encourages civic engagement and community service, and fosters democratic values.