I remember bugging my neighbors by blasting The Yellow Rose Of Texas on a portable record player from my bedroom window. The first record I ever bought with my own money was a 45 of Elvis's Jailhouse Rock in fourth grade.
But it was mom who pushed me to take piano lessons from first to fourth grade. It took me until I was 60 to thank her. I think she was surprised since I had never wanted to practice back then.
Mom Flew The Coop
Mom passed on this week. She almost made it to 102. She hadn't played the piano for many years, and she never wanted to listen to recorded music in her later years. But she loved going to hear the Erie Philharmonic.
I always wondered what it would be like to be born into a family that passed down a trade, profession, or business from one generation to the next. The closest I came to that was my mom's interest in music.
We weren't close when I was young. She was busy raising a family, keeping a household going, doing many civic things, hosting her mother in our small house. But she influenced me in so many ways.
Her home was my home, and it was always open. I knew that I could bring home friends for lunch or dinner and she would always stretch the available food and set the table for one more.
She knew that she could accomplish anything, and expected her kids could as well. I was given total trust and support for my decisions, whether she agreed with them or not.
Walking And Talking
My dad died when I was 21, and I promised him I would take care of her. She didn't need me until later, but we grew close as the years progressed.
For decades, we walked, then as she aged, we rode for hours on Sundays, usually including a leisurely tour around Presque Isle State Park. We talked about everything. Her family meant the world to her, and she shared her memories and geneology knowledge.
Her favorite activity was a picnic on the peninsula. In the last years, that meant a sandwich or a treat in the car as we watched the birds, boats and pedestrians. And she had a serious sweet tooth. This photo captures it all - a picnic at the peninsula with sweets.
Mary Catherine McMahon VanAmburg Hosack - A Force Of Nature
Her dad nicknamed her Mickey when she was three. She couldn't give me the back-story of why he chose the name, but most everyone called her that, not Mary Catherine. Except my dad. The only name I ever heard him call her was Butch.
Mickey believed in right and wrong. And she fought for what she believed in. For example, until I was in fourth grade, kids weren't allowed to play in Frontier Park, a 33-acre city park site now beautifully managed by LEAF (Lake Erie Aroboretum at Frontier Park). It's hard to believe, but only the residents across the street were allowed to walk their dogs in the park. They were known to call the police when kids played there. One day after being called to come get me from the police station, Mickey had had enough. She, Tom Fuhrman Sr. and two other parents marched on City Hall, attending every weekly city council meeting for months until they got their way and the park was opened to the kids.
She left a legacy. And I'm having fun following her footsteps. I hope you do the same in honoring your folks.
Mickey's Last Request
If you are interested in learning a bit more about Mickey's life, you are welcome to read her obituary, which I'll leave below until it is published by the Kloecker Funeral Home.
And if you want to honor her legacy, as she said with a smile, "If you want to do a good deed, donate a roll of toilet paper in my name."
She asked that anyone interested in making a contribution in her memory donate what you can to the Sisters of St. Joseph Neighborhood Network (SSJNN). Their website describes their many community programs. SSJNN accepts cash contributions, volunteers in their many programs, and products (hygiene products, paper supplies, non-perishable food items and paper products for their soup kitchen.
Obituary - Mary Catherine Hosack
Mary Catherine "Mickey" McMahon VanAmburg Hosack died June 25, 2019 at age 101, following two years of wonderful services by GECAC and Meals On Wheels; one year of personal support from Heartland Hospice, and six months of residence and excellent personal care at Edinboro Manor.
EDUCATION AND CAREER
She was born August 25, 1917 in Mount Jewett, PA, and moved to Erie at age 13 to attend high school. Mary graduated from Villa Maria Academy, but had to leave college during the depression to help support her parents. She worked for General Telephone of PA.
While raising her four children and caring for her husband during his recovery from open heart surgery, she returned to college in her late 40s, knowing she would be the sole provider for her family. She earned a BA in English from Villa Maria College.
Following her college graduation, she taught English at Academy High School, Erie.
She subsequently completed an MA in English from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania. She also completed graduate studies at the University of London, Pennsylvania State University and University of Pittsburgh.
Mary was involved in many community and leadership roles well into her 90s, including Cub Scout Den Mother; President, St. Andrew's Parent-Teacher Association; President, Pennsylvania Parent-Teachers Association; Executive board, American Red Cross, Erie Chapter; President, American Association of University Women, Pittsburgh Area Branch; President, Womens Club of Erie; Historian, St. Peter's Cathedral; and Member, Associates of Sisters of St. Joseph of NW PA.
She gave annual parties for patients of St. Mary's East and West, and was actively involved in St. Peter's Women's Council. She baked food weekly for the homeless, volunteered at the St. Peter's Food Pantry and helped the Sisters of St. Joseph Neighborhood Network provide free meals in St. Paul Center.
She tutored many students who spoke English as a second language, and planned programs for her regular prayer group until age 94.
TRAVEL AND HONORS
Following retirement, Mary traveled extensively throughout Europe, the mid-east and South America. She and her husband Ivan Hosack gave hundreds of presentations throughout northwest and southwest PA. For this, she was honored with the first Citizens' Award given by Millcreek Township School District.
In 2012 at age 94, she was honored by the Mercy Center on Women in their Women Making History. Here is a one minute video from that award. https://youtu.be/hJ-N00muivk
FAMILY AND DESCENDENTS
She was preceded in death by her parents, Edward C. McMahon and Anna Rose Magee McMahon, her brother, Daniel McMahon, her two husbands, Malcolm S. VanAmburg, and Ivan G. Hosack, and her oldest son, James E. VanAmburg, Ph.D.
She is succeeded by her daughter-in-law and friend, Penelope VanAmburg, her remaining three children and spouses, Catherine A. VanAmburg; M. Christine and Stephan Juskewycz; David F. and Rebecca VanAmburg.
Her grandchildren and spouses include Noah and Kim VanAmburg; Nicholas and Cornelia VanAmburg; Alicia Juskewycz, Nicholas Juskewycz; David D and Mia VanAmburg; Rebecca M VanAmburg and Justine Emily; Leah VanAmburg Isaacs and Jaime Isaacs; Meghan Lininger and Nate Bruno; Sara and Keith Watkins.
She also leaves nine great grandchildren and one great-great grandchild.
Her mother was proud to be a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, with two ancestors fighting in the American Revolutionary war, but Mary was proudest of being a descentent of many generations of immigrants from Ireland.
Cremation was graciously handled by Francis V. Kloecker Funeral Home. Burial will be at Bridgeview Cemetery, Mount Jewett, PA. The family will hold a private memorial in the future.
Mary asked that anyone interested in making a contribution in her memory donate what you can to the Sisters of St. Joseph Neighborhood Network (SSJNN). Their website, http://www.ssjnn.org, describes their many community programs.
SSJNN accepts cash contributions, volunteers in their many programs, and products (hygiene products, paper supplies, non-perishable food items and paper products for their soup kitchen.
As she said with a smile, "If you want to do a good deed, donate a roll of toilet paper in my name."