'19 Kids and Counting' Matriarch Grandma Mary Duggar's Life and Unexpected Death

Ra'eesah Manack
Jun 18, 2019
06:06 A.M.
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Authorities revealed that Mary Duggar, the grandmother of the Duggar family, was found dead last week Sunday. Her daughter made the heartbreaking discovery.


Mary Leona Lester, better known as Grandma Duggar, was born on May 26, 1941. She was originally from in Gentry, AR. She converted to Christianity at fifteen. 

According to the Duggar Family website, Mary enjoyed sharing her love for Jesus through her own story of conversion and how she asked Christ to forgive her.


"It was at that time she committed the rest of her life to live for Him, a commitment she kept with devotion. She loved to share with others how they too could be forgiven of their sins, live a fulfilling life as a Christian, and one day spend eternity in heaven," read a tribute to her.

Mary passed away on June 9, 2019. She was 78-years-old at the time. Her death was announced on the Duggar family facebook page.


Her Children:

In 1960, Mary married James Lee Duggar.  Together they had two children, a daughter, Deanna L. Duggar and a son, James Robert "Jim Bob" Duggar.

Deanna is currently divorced while Jim Bob is married to Michelle Ruark. Through her children, Mary has 21 grandchildren.


Her Grandchildren:

Deanna has one daughter, Amy Rachelle, who was born out of wedlock with Terry Jordan. Even though Amy's parents married on March 14, 2006, they got divorced in December 2015.

Jim Bob and Michelle have 19 children together. Their big family launched them into stardom when they became the focus of the show "19 Kids and Counting" and "Counting On." 


The oldest of their children is Joshua James. In total, they have ten boys including Joshua, John-David,  Joseph, Josiah, Jedidiah, Jeremiah, Jason, James, Justin, and Jackson Levi. They are also the legal guardians of Tyler Hutchins who is the son of Michelle's niece, Rachel Hutchins.

They also have nine girls. Jana Marie is the oldest followed shortly after by Jill Michelle, Jessa Lauren, Jinger Nicole, Joy-Anna, Johannah Faith, Jennifer Danielle, Jordyn-Grace Makiya, and Josie Brooklyn.


From her son's many children, Mary was also a great grandmother to 12 children before her death.  Mary's granddaughter Amy was also expecting her first child when Mary passed away unexpectedly.

When Grandma Duggar passed, Anna Keller, who is married to her grandson, was also expecting her sixth child and her granddaughter Joy was expecting her second child. Mary's grandson Joseph and his wife, Kendra Caldwell, were also expecting their second child and Mary's grandson Josiah and his wife Lauren Swanson were expecting their first child together when Mary died.


Details about her passing:

Many of her grandchildren also posted tributes to their grandmother after her passing.  Radar Online revealed that Jim Bob's mother mom died at age 78.

According to the report, at 4:37 pm on Sunday, June 9, someone called 911. In the call, the person asked for medics to be sent to Mary’s home stating the reason for the call as “possible drowning.”


People Magazine confirmed with the Washington County Coroner Roger W. Morris that the 78-year-old died after accidentally drowning in a swimming pool. 

“Duggar slipped and fell into the pool and drowned,” Morris revealed. “Her daughter Deanna discovered her body and alerted authorities, who pronounced her dead at the scene.”


Tributes to the beloved grandmother:

“On her last morning spent here on earth, I drove Grandma to church where she worshiped her Savior. Later that afternoon, she went to meet Him face to face! I’d say that’s probably how she would’ve chosen to finish out the day if she got to pick,” wrote Mary’s granddaughter Jana Duggar in a heartbreaking tribute.

Jana's sister Jill took a more light-hearted yet heartwarming approach with her tribute. She remembered her granny as a "feisty, incredible woman" and joked that she knew her granny "ready to check outta here and get her new body in heaven before the old one started giving her too much trouble!"


"As I’ve talked with my children this week about their special memories of Great-Grandma, Meredith said she was going to miss singing for Grandma," wrote Anna Duggar in a lengthy Instagram tribute. She added, "Dithy has such a special love for Great-Grandma as she always enjoyed time with her and singing for her — Great-Grandma would give undivided attention and was her biggest fan!"

On the official Duggar family site, Mary was remembered for her love of helping others in their search for forgiveness. She was also known for giving advice on how to live as a Christian.

"She lived a tremendous life as a follower of Christ, a wife, a devoted mother, a loving mother-in-law, and a much-loved grandmother. Proverbs 31:10-31 describes the virtuous woman, indeed she personified these beautiful verses with her life," read the tribute.