Mary Margaret McGovern, 83, of Montgomery, IL, went to be in the Lord’s care on Monday, January 16, 2023. In her final hours, she was attended by her daughter, Aimeé, and her oldest grandson, Jeffrey, who, together, held her hands as she quietly passed.
Mary was born the second of eight children to James Joseph and Katherine Ann (Malinski) McGovern on May 23, 1939 in St. Joseph, MO. She is survived by her siblings: Terry (Dean) Truemper, Tom (the late Pat) McGovern, Barbara (the late Tim) Gormly, Bridget (the late Jack) Paluska, and John (Sharon) McGovern; her daughter, Aimeé (James) Henderson; her grandchildren: Jeffrey Melton, Justin McGovern, and Hannah Henderson; and many nieces and nephews.
Preceding Mary in death were her father and her mother, whom Mary supported following her father’s death; her sisters: Katherine (Jerry) Sheehan and Jennifer Szerletich; her cousin and best friend, Mary Catherine Felker; and a special niece, Barbara (Paluska) Masters.
In life, Mary dedicated herself to her work, her community, and, above all else, her family.
As a resident of the Chicago area, Mary worked at Illinois Bell for 35 years, during which time she earned various promotions and was responsible for numerous innovations, all while maintaining perfect attendance, distinctions for which she and her family were filled with pride. Mary later returned to school to pursue her original dream, nursing, and succeeded in becoming a Certified Nursing Assistant.
As a CNA, Mary cared for the elderly and infirm in nursing homes throughout the Chicago suburbs for over 15 years, speaking out against abuse and neglect wherever she saw it, even risking her career to bring the truth to light. She landed finally at The Tiller’s in Oswego, where she worked with her older sister, Terry, and where she forged many lasting friendships with residents and coworkers alike. This work and these relationships were her passion.
As a member of the Oswego community, Mary was an outspoken advocate for grandparent’s rights in schools and libraries, having herself played a vital and irreplaceable role in the upbringing of her first grandson, Jeffrey, as his legal guardian. In her neighborhood, Mary kept a watchful eye out for the safety of all of the children, even treating Jeffrey’s closest friends as her own family.
Mary proudly described herself as a “spinster,” having chosen to never marry, but even so, she became a single parent when she adopted her (then) niece, Aimeé, and raised her as her only daughter. On the wall of her final home hangs a placard which reads, “One hundred years from now it will not matter what kind of house you lived in, how much money you had, nor what your clothes were like. But the world may be a little better because you made a difference in the life of a child.” From the adoption of her daughter, through the births and lives of her three grandchildren, no one better exemplified true commitment to that ideal, through word and deed, than Mary. Family was everything to her, and everything she did was for us.
Mary enjoyed life, and especially loved her sports. She was a true, lifelong fan of Chicago teams, particularly the Cubs and Bears. Her cries of celebration or disappointment could be heard down the street, so everyone knew not to bother her when she was watching her games! She was known to some as the “lottery lady” for her love of scratch-off tickets, though she was never shy about sharing her winnings. She played for the love of the game and the joy of sharing with her family.
Her golden years were spent enjoying her simple pleasures and living with her ever-loyal guard dog, George, the last of her many beloved pets through the years, and Jeffrey, both of whom she cherished. Her greatest concern during this time was that her family be able to carry on without her when the time came. We, her family, wish to make this declaration to her:
We will survive without you. We will struggle, and we will lose our way, but we will heal, and we will flourish. We will survive without you, because of you. Your loss is the greatest hurt we could ever know, but your love was the greatest gift we could ever receive. We were the family you chose without obligation. You owed us nothing, yet everything you had, you gave us, and everything you were, you taught us. We will not forget, and we will be ever grateful. We love you. Be with your Mama now.
In accordance with Mary’s wishes to be remembered simply, we, her family, have decided to hold a service in celebration of her life at a later date in the spring, near her birthday. Details will be made public as they are finalized.
As you mourn her and honor her life, remember three simple things:
Remember that she lived. Remember her impact. Remember that she did it her way.
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