Mary Margaret Gunn
September 29, 1939 – September 23, 2021
GUNN, MARY M., 81 of Ridge, NY, passed away on Thursday, September 23, 2021 at Stony Brook Hospital after a 12-year battle with lung cancer. She was the loving wife of James Gunn for 61 years. Born in Manhattan, she was the only child of Hanora Connolly and Patrick Strappe, both of Ireland. She was loved deeply by her three children: Patrick, Kelly and Jennifer, as well as her daughter-in-law Jennifer and son-in-law Douglas. She was also greatly loved by her four grandchildren: Caelan, Ryan, Abush and Norah. And she was most recently blessed with a great-granddaughter, Fiona.
Mary grew up in Manhattan and Queens as the only child of Irish immigrants. She loved spending time with her cousins as a child and was known for being sporty and bubbly. She graduated from Dominican Commercial High School in 1957. She attended St. Johns University. A year before they officially met, Jim recalls seeing Mary across the room at a party and thinking, “That’s the kind of woman I want to marry.” When they finally met, Jim knew he’d met the one — and he had competition. The two married on August 20, 1960 in Fresh Meadows, Queens. They lived in Jamaica, Queens and then Queens Village for many years before moving to Stony Brook and finally to the Leisure Glen community in Ridge, NY.
Mary was radiant, intelligent and possessed a subtle, but sharp wit, which would often take people by surprise because she was outwardly quiet, an observer — and a bit introverted in social settings. She was known, though, for her zingers that would have us all in laughter. Mary didn’t know her own beauty or her own fierceness. But she unequivocally embodied both of those things — and so much more. Mary always had strong friendships throughout her life and shared activities that ranged from bowling, mahjong, yoga and even being captain of the Bocci ball team at Leisure Glen. She was a staple at Knight of Columbus social events and loved to play bingo in her community. Mary was also an avid gardener, and had exquisite flower and vegetable gardens at her homes in Stony Brook and Leisure Glen. She loved to read, quickly devouring novels in just a couple of days. Mary could often be found at her kitchen table doing crossword puzzles in short order. And she never missed Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune, where she’d shout out most of the answers before the contestants.
Mary always had great style — everyone always remarked on her classic style, her gorgeous white hair and her timeless beauty. Mary was a fighter — she fought for herself, for her health, and to be here with us as long as she possibly could. Even on her last day, she was speaking of the future, of coming home and celebrating her granddaughter’s birthday. She asked to see photographs of her great-grandaughter’s Christening. She routinely gave us all instructions, and on the day she died reminded Jim, “I’m the boss.” This year, despite her health challenges, she was able to spend time with her family and hold her brand new great-grandchild. Her resilience and desire to be with her family was remarkable.
Mary’s life was centered around her faith, her family and helping others through her volunteer work and prayers. She spent years volunteering at various churches: St. Gerard Majella, St. James R.C. Church and the Long Island State Veterans Home at Stony Brook. Mary, along with her husband Jim, devoted their Sundays for over 15 years to tend to those in need at the Veteran’s home, until her health made it too difficult for her to continue the work. Each week, Mary helped the resident veterans get from their rooms down to mass each week, and she spent time talking with them with love, dignity and respect. Mary also relied on the power of prayer, particularly to her personal patron saint, St. Theresa. Whenever she would hear of someone struggling, or when her children even mentioned a friend going through crisis, she would say, “I’ll be speaking to St. Theresa about this and praying for them.” In her own life, Mary was firm that it was the power of her faith that helped her endure the battle with cancer all these years. She was a woman of few words, but a wide open, vulnerable, and pure heart. Mary felt other’s pain deeply and her empathy, compassion and kindness shined through her actions.
One of the most loveable and adorable things about Mary was her passion for dessert. No matter how big the meal, there was always room for sweets. She often asked Jim to run out for late-night ice cream sundaes and literally had a drawer full of cookies and cakes in her kitchen. She truly loved birthday cakes, Peach Pies from Briermere Farms, Christmas and any kind of celebration. On her final day, she was upset to be missing her granddaughter’s Norah’s birthday. Their birthdays were just days apart and she loved celebrating together as “birthday buddies.”
Mary was known for her quiet strength and dignity. Despite the weight of fighting for her health, she filled her days with humor, love and joy. She was indeed the boss. She loved to take drives to the beach with Jim where they’d watch the waves, have lunch and have their special talks. Though she was quiet, Mary was well-known and well-loved in the community. She made wonderful friends through her work at Swezey’s Department Store, her volunteer work, The Knights of Columbus and in Leisure Glen. She would always run into friends and acquantences everywhere she went, so much so that we’d say, “Who are you going to run into today?” When she would walk into the Veterans Home on Sundays, the veterans and fellow volunteers would flock to her. Mary was most vibrant and happy in service. She loved to help others and was a quiet but mighty force of love and kindness. A devoted partner and wife. A wonderful mom. A loving grandmother. Mary left us all with a lifetime of love and memories — and many Mary-isms. She instilled in us traditions we will carry with us. She taught us to be strong, smart and good. We will feel the presence of her absence forever. We love you, Mary. We love you, Mom. We love you, Nanny. May you be at peace.
Monday, September 27, 2021
Tuesday, September 28, 2021
Tuesday, September 28, 2021
Mary Margaret Gunn
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Caelan Schaefer (Gunn)
September 24, 2021
In loving memory of my Nanny, who would put my eggs on my fork and always had Milano “Nanny Cookies” in the cabinet. I will always remember our happy memories and forever have you in my heart. I am so glad you were able to be a part of big milestones in my adult life and that you were able to meet your great granddaughter.
Caelan, Don, Giuliana, and Fiona
September 24, 2021
Our dear Mary,
On behalf of me and my mom, Karmen Nikolic, (your “sister”), we are so heartbroken to hear of your passing.
Personally, I enjoyed many Monday nights playing Bingo at the Glen with you and mom. You always had a on a sweet smile and always had kind words to say. I can understand why my mom loved you as a “sister”. You are a kind and loving person who will be missed greatly. 💔
Mom is very sad to hear of your passing. She will always cherish the many talks she has had with you. Thank you for always checking in with her when dad was sick and especially when he passed. As her last phone message stated… “ Hi it’s me Karmen. I just want you to know I’m praying for you and I love you. Call me back but if you can’t I understand.”
Sending you many hugs and kisses.
Condolences to Jim and the family.
Ingrid Hrvatin and Karmen Nikolic