STERLING –- Mary Elizabeth (O’Toole) Hanley, 96, of Leominster, passed away after a brief illness on October 18, 2018 in Sterling Village Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, surrounded by her loving family.
Mary was born January 4, 1922, in Clinton, MA, the daughter of the late Austin and Mary (O’Malley) O’Toole, who had immigrated from County Mayo, Ireland. A graduate of Clinton High School, she moved to Leominster in 1947 after her marriage to the late Ralph J. Hanley. She lived in Leominster for the next 70 years until she moved to Sterling Village in 2017 due to declining health.
Mary is survived by her four children: Kathleen McGuigan and her husband James of Lunenburg, MA; Margaret Hanley of Leominster, MA; John Hanley and wife Nancy of Lunenburg, MA; and Daniel Hanley and wife Denise of Lunenburg, MA; seven grandchildren; four great-grandchildren; and many nieces and nephews scattered across the country. Her husband Ralph, two brothers, John O’Toole and Francis O’Toole, and her sister Josephine Shaughnessy predeceased her.
A gifted knitter and crocheter, Mary made beautiful afghans and sweaters for her family where they are prized possessions. She loved to garden, and seemed to have personal relationships with her flowers. She especially adored iris. Mary loved to bake and was known for her applesauce cake and madeleine cookies. Before she lost her vision, she was an avid reader and crossword puzzle aficionado. She could be counted on to know the answer to clues relating to silent movies, the Great Depression, FDR, World War II, the Fifties and the Kennedy family, among others. She was a fantastic speller, and always seemed ready to joyfully take part in whatever activity or outing was being planned.
One of her greatest talents was listening and she was always there to hear your good news or heartaches. Through listening and observing, not unlike Miss Marple, she was an excellent judge of character. Invariably you felt better about yourself after spending time with her.
Before her retirement Mary worked as the shipper in the former R&M Manufacturing in Leominster. She was a long-time member of St. Leo’s Church, Leominster, the Senior Center, and the Golden Agers.
Mary’s family would like to thank the staff at Sterling Village for their kind and compassionate care.
Mary’s funeral will be held on Wednesday, October 24th from the Silas F. Richardson & Son Funeral home, 106 West Street, Leominster with a mass at 11 am in St. Leo’s Church, 128 Main Street, Leominster. Burial will follow in St. Leo’s Cemetery. A calling hour will be held on Wednesday morning from 9:30 -10:30 am in the funeral home. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Leominster Public Library, attention Tina McAndrew, 30 West Street, Leominster, MA 01453 or the Arc of Opportunity, 564 Main Street, Fitchburg, MA 01420.
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