Monday, June 24, 2024

Mary Frances McCarthy, 90

Mary Frances McCarthy (Wilmington Funeral & Cremation)

WILMINGTON — Mary Frances McCarthy, 90, passed away peacefully on Wednesday, May 22, 2024, surrounded by her loving family in Wilmington, NC.

Mary was born on May 19, 1934 to parents Fred and Grace Cawthra in the Vailsburg section of Newark, NJ. She was a proud graduate of St Vincent’s Academy in Newark, New Jersey, an institution that left an indelible impression on Mary and how she lived her life going forward.

Mary met the love of her life, Gerald J. McCarthy, in Belmar, NJ. After marrying in 1955, they lived in Kearny and Middletown, NJ, before eventually settling in Avon-by-the-Sea, NJ, where she and Jerry spent the best years of their lives raising eight children and establishing lifelong friendships along the Jersey Shore. As the mother of a large Irish Catholic family, Mary held a very special place in her heart for Avon, as it provided her with a community that was an extension of her own family. The family home “131 Garfield” was a loud and boisterous place filled with love, laughter, banter, and a continuous cycle of friends who would frequently stop by to say hello or enjoy a summer beverage on the porch after a day at the beach.

An excellent cook and gracious host, Mary warmly welcomed all and was always happy to make room at her table for any friend or guest who stopped by at dinnertime. Gardening, sewing, and needlepoint were among Mary’s many talents and favorite hobbies; she lovingly crafted and gifted beautiful quilts and needlepoint pieces which will always be treasured. While in her 40s and in the midst of raising her children, Mary also pursued a career in healthcare. She became a Licensed Practical Nurse and then followed her passion by obtaining her degree as a Registered Nurse from Brookdale Community College. Nursing was a vocation that channeled her kind, gentle, and caring spirit.

In 1995, Mary and Jerry settled in Wilmington, NC, where Mary continued her love of nursing, working at Tileston Outreach Clinic. Mary was a daily communicant at St. Therese Catholic Church in Wrightsville Beach where she served as a Eucharistic Minster. In her later years, Mary attended mass at St Mark’s Catholic Church in Wilmington. Mary dedicated her long life to kindness and love toward others. She was an excellent listener, a calm presence, and beyond gracious to everyone she encountered from New Jersey to North Carolina. Mary will always be remembered for her deep faith, her trademark Irish sweater, her warm smile, and the twinkle in her eye.

Mary and Jerry were a great match and showed their love for each other daily over the course of their 62-year marriage. By their actions, they exemplified the importance of marriage and parenting. Known to those dearest to her as Mom and Nana, she is survived by her daughters Mary McKenzie and Eileen Leahey (Richard); sons Kevin, John, Tim (Carolyn), Chris (Mary Beth), Michael, and Jerry (Niamh); and her grandchildren Duncan, Chris, Virginia, Connor, Sean, Gavin, Kiera, Ben, Brigid, Marin, Molly, Ella, Reilly, and Celia Rose; and her sister-in-law, Peggy Cawthra , along with many nieces and nephews. Mary is welcomed into heaven by dear family and friends who have gone before her, especially her husband Jerry, granddaughter Grace McCarthy, parents Fred and Grace, and brother William Cawthra.

On behalf of our entire family, we’d like to thank Bernadette and Bob Everhart, Blaise Bolan and her beloved late husband Peter, Ann Marie and Greg Campbell, Janice Canady, and Niamh and Jerry McCarthy for their incredible kindness, care, and support of our mother. We would also like to acknowledge and thank the professional staff at Cambridge Village, The Kempton at Brightmore, Well Care Health, Dr Pillay, and Lower Cape Fear Life Center, all in Wilmington, for their utmost care and compassion.

The McCarthy family will hold a Celebration of Life and a Mass of Christian Burial for Mary at St. Elizabeth of Hungary Church-Parish of St. Teresa of Calcutta in Avon, NJ, on Saturday, September 14 at 10:30 a.m. Please join us to celebrate the life of a wonderful woman who loved and touched many people over her 90 years. Until then, as Mary would say, “Be kind to yourself.”

If you would like to make donation in Mary’s honor, the family has identified St. Vincent’s Academy and the Lower Fear Life Center as two deserving organizations.

Online condolences may be sent here.

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