Portland-Mary J. Houston, 78, of Cedarhurst Lane, died Thursday, February 12, 2015, at Maine Medical Center, with her loving family at her side. She was born in Portland on July 9, 1936, a daughter of Camillo and Flavia (DiDonato) Palanza. She attended local schools and graduated from Portland High School. She married George R. Houston on October 15, 1960, at St. Peters Church in Portland. Mary was among the first Special Education Advocates in the State of Maine. She worked tirelessly advocating for and educating the public about mainstreaming education opportunities for special needs children in public schools. She was a caring, nurturing woman with a special gift of empathy for others. At the family kitchen table, would not only provide wonderful meals, she would speak to each individual to learn of their lifes joys and hardships. Her sincere interest in others, ability to share their feeling, and provide comfort and assurance, led to many deep and meaningful friendships. She was a member and past president of St. Josephs Sodality, a key figure in the dedication of Father Hayes Parish Hall, a CCD teacher, and director of First Communion Mass and Sacrament for twenty years. She is predeceased by infant twin daughters; two brothers, Santo Palanza and Emidio John Palanza; and twin sister and brother, Assunta and Antonio Palanza. She is survived by her loving husband of fifty-four years, George R. Houston; a daughter and best friend, Regina M. Houston of Portland; a son, Thomas A. Houston of Portland; a brother, Benedict J. Palanza and his companion Joannie Bennett of Scarborough; and three God-children, Libby, John, and Steven Palanza. There will be no visitation. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated 9:00 am, Thursday, at St. Josephs Church, 673 Stevens Avenue, Portland. Burial will take place in the spring at Calvary Cemetery, South Portland. Arrangements are by Conroy-Tully Crawford Funeral Home, 172 State Street, Portland. Online condolences may be expressed at www.ctcrawford.com. Memorial donations may be made to: American Diabetes Association, PO Box 10310, Portland, ME 04101.