Mary Oberne

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Mary Marjorie Oberne (born Miami, USA, 19th June 1943 - died Goa (Assagoa), 5th September 2006).

Mary Oberne, India, c1971



Mary Oberne was born in Miami, Florida to a Canadian mother and an American father. Her parents had met while travelling from England to America aboard the RMS Queen Mary, so travel was in her blood.

Mary was living in Mexico in 1946 when she contracted polio and had to be smuggled into the USA and put into hospital. She spent the next fifteen years in and out of hospital and had over twenty five operations. The doctors told her mother that Mary would never walk again. Fortunately she was having none of that and tried out a brand new thing called Physiotherapy. Mary went on to walk in the Himalayas.

Mary attended National Cathedral School for girls in Washington DC. When she graduated from there she went to the University of Stockholm and studied drama.

In 1965 Mary went to a Bob Dylan concert (Blonde on Blonde tour) and was inspired to buy a Land Rover and head out East with three friends. She reached India in 1966. Mary and 8 Finger Eddie took a flat in the Juhu Beach area of Mumbai and it was a crash pad for any who needed a place to crash.

Eddie was the first to go down to Goa. He came back and insisted that Mary must go! Eddie and Mary were the first of the "flower raj" to settle there.

In 1967 Mary met Wolfgang Diels, a twenty one year old German who had hitch hiked his way out East. Together they travelled to Bali, Malaysia & Thailand and told many people of the wonders they had seen.

In January of 1969 Mary gave birth to their daughter Dolma. By the end of 1969 Wolf & Mary had gone their separate ways.

Mary then lived with with David, a young flute player from California. They had their first son Kunsang in April of 1971. They were both into Tibetan Buddhism and were now living in Darjeeling where they studied under a Tibetan Lama.

David also studied Sanskrit at Shantiniketan and The Indian bamboo flute under North Indian bansuri master Shri Shri Gour Goswami of North Calcutta and under T. R. Mahalingam in Bangalore so they travelled all over India in a red Volkswagen van.

In October 1973 their son Tsewang was born in Mussoorie, Uttar Pradesh, India. In 1975 David was told that his father was dying so they took the family and went to California.

After moving around for a bit they finally settled down in Bolinas, California (just outside San Francisco). This, like everywhere else Mary had lived, became a meeting place for the flower generation and those coming back from the East after years abroad. In 1978 Mary and David split up and Mary went back out to Goa again.

In 1987 Mary went to California to see her sons (who were living with their father). It was there she met her boyfriend Kevin, an American from Nebraska. She was with him until her death in 2006.

Mary had a big heart and always was a mother to all and her doors were always open to everyone who needed shelter.

Family / Children

  • Mother - Marjorie Oberne (nee Borden, born 13th February 1911 - died 2nd April 1992).
  • Son - Kunsang (born Darjeeling, India, April 1971 - father David).
  • Son - Tsewang (born Mussoorie, India, October 1973 - father David).


Blog Posts

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  • Hatto Fischer wrote (15th September 2011):
"Two days ago her name reappeared out of nowhere. I was thinking about my childhood days out at the cottage in Gleneagle, Quebec - along the Gatineau river. When 14,I met Mary who was then 16 1/2. Sadly I discovered she died in 2006. I still have fond memories of her who smoked like a chimney already then, drove a big Buick and impressed me how she took the many operations on her legs. More telling about her was the story of a girl lying beside her when in hospital. The girl had lost both parents in a car accident. When Mary's parents came for a visit, she showed so much compassion for that girl and was grateful that her parents still existed, that she forgot to speak about her own plight. Naturally kissing her during one moon lit night on the porch of the only railway station had a set back. Being with a minor, so to speak, she treated me well but wanted not her mother to know. But after this kissing on the way back to her cottage, a tiny space where we often had parties, I got so sick that she had to call for her mother. And so came to light our summer romantic relationship. I shall never forget with what kindness she treated my love for her even though she was beyond that and already dreaming about another world. I hold her dear in my memories".
  • Nico Morrison wrote:
"Mary was a generous and hospitable friend to me when I was in Goa in 1969 and not doing well; and I was not the only person she helped; she and Eight Finger Eddie were known for their unstinting support no matter how messed up or difficult the person was. Since some people found it hard to ask for help, Mary had the habit of leaving very small amounts of money, a few rupees, lying around in her beach house. Those in need could help themselves and nothing was ever said."

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