Mary Warga became the OSA's first Executive Secretary in 1958 when the Board of Directors voted to establish a permanent executive office. She was formally appointed on 1 September 1959. That same year, she was elected to the first class of Fellows. She traveled extensively, met with many active optics professionals, encouraged them to join the organization, form local sections, and present their research at our meetings. She began a monthly column in JOSA to inform members about executive office operations and society activities.
Warga earned her bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees from the University of Pittsburgh, U.S. After getting her Ph.D., she became a professor of physics and the director of the spectroscopy laboratory. Her research focused on optical absorption, upper atmosphere spectroscopy, spectrochemical analysis and ultraviolet, visible and infrared optical emission.
In 1960, with the invention of the laser, there was a tremendous surge in the interest in laser optics. Warga helped keep the meetings, journals, and the Society itself in the mainstream. In 1969, Jarus W. Quinn became the Executive Director, and Warga's role shifted to ceremonial functions until she retired in 1972.
In 1973, she received the first Stephen D. Fantone Distinguished Service Award in appreciation of her advancement in optics by her long devotion to the Society's affairs. She was acknowledged for the multitude of contacts that she had personally fostered and thanked for representing the OSA in inter-society matters. She was held in high esteem by her many friends and colleagues.
Warga died in 1991 at the age of 86.