Mary graduated from Ole Miss and received her M.B.A. from Millsaps College. She worked in public relations and communications in Dallas before returning to Mississippi, where she co-founded a public relations firm in the mid-1980s.
She has been involved in numerous civic organizations including the Junior League of Jackson, Mississippi Symphony Orchestra, Mississippi Museum of Art, Colonial Dames of America and the Neighborhood Christian Center. She currently serves on the boards of the Eudora Welty Foundation and Greenwood Cemetery.
She and her husband Tom have three children — Thomas, Wirt and Mary Montague.