Friday, May 24, 2024




Mary Frances Giltz died peacefully in her sleep at Fair Haven in Birmingham, Alabama on the afternoon of May 18, 2024, with children and grandchildren by her side. She was 95 years old, “but you don’t have to mention that,” she would have said. It was a hot day and she had sweet tea on her bedside table and was wrapped in an electric blanket set to “high,” just as she always was–even when living in South Florida, even in the summer. 

Mary Frances was proud of being Canadian and Catholic, an ardent royalist and admirer of her contemporary Queen Elizabeth II, drank hot tea in the morning with four or five sugar cubes followed by Coca-Cola all day long, with a glass of Coke by her bedside at night. When she was in her 80s (not that we have to mention that) her optometrist Dr. Mike Callahan insisted the Coca-Cola simply had to stop. She obediently followed her doctor’s orders…and soon began drinking sweet tea. 

She was a world-traveling tennis umpire, a volunteer at every school her children attended and at every church she joined in three different countries and boasted excellent health into her 90s. In January of 2023, she traveled to Stellenbosch, South Africa for her grandson Craig’s wedding to Taryn van der Spuy. In July of 2023, she traveled to Greentown, Pennsylvania for her grandson Kevin’s wedding to Sabrina Sheba. Then she popped up to Toronto to visit her sister Judith Lynn and other relatives. 

That was just ten months before she died. Mary Frances still didn’t use a cane to get around, though perhaps she did hold on to the elbow of whomever she was with a little more firmly than in years past. And yes, she used a wheelchair in airports, but who doesn’t enjoy skipping long lines at security? 

She is survived by her six children, including David Giltz, Leslie Giltz, Christopher Giltz and his wife Heidi, Patricia Holbrook and her husband Jim, Elizabeth Anderson and her husband Jason and Michael Giltz. 

Mary Frances is also survived by nine grandchildren, including Christopher’s children Kevin Giltz and his wife Sabrina, Alexandra Ordoñez and her fiancé Trevor Gardner, Justin Giltz and Amanda Giltz; Patricia’s children Craig Jones and his wife Taryn and Frances Jones; and Elizabeth’s children Margaret Leeds, Andrew Leeds and Matthew Leeds and his fiancé Kyle Kulmann. 

She is also survived by her sister Judith Lynn de Swaaf of Toronto and her children, Jonathan de Swaaf and his wife Sarah Brennenstuhl and their children River and Atlas; and Elizabeth de Swaaf and her partner Mark Walraad. 

Mary Frances is predeceased by her husband William Giltz, her parents Francis Walpole and Mary Walpole nee Pickett and her siblings Margaret Ann Walpole, John Douglas Walpole and Robert  James Walpole. Mary Walpole was a long-time fixture at The Globe and Mail with her column Around The Town, which ran for decades

A funeral will be held at St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church in Birmingham, Alabama on Thursday May 30, with Visitation at 10 am and the Funeral at 11 am. Mary Frances will be buried at Mt. Hope Catholic Cemetery in her hometown of Toronto, Ontario Canada on a date in June to be determined. 

Flowers are welcome. If you would like to make a donation in her name, please consider these two. 


Donating to First Light Shelter of Birmingham will reflect the volunteer work Mary Frances performed there regularly, alongside her many friends at St. Francis. 


Donating to the United States Tennis Association Florida Foundation will reflect the illustrious and rewarding career Mary Frances enjoyed as a lines-person, tennis umpire, USTA official and tournament organizer for many decades. 

To read more about her life, go to Mary Frances Giltz – Her Story

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