Cover photo for Mary McGarry Meinhard's Obituary
Mary McGarry Meinhard Profile Photo
1929 Mary 2023

Mary McGarry Meinhard

October 28, 1929 — September 23, 2023

Davenport Barrington

Mary McGarry Meinhard lived a long, full life. Born on October 28, 1929, and passing away on September 23, 2023, at the age of 93. She and her husband, Richard J. Meinhard (1930-2000) raised six children in Barrington and were grandparents to seven.

Mary was gentle, but firm. Quiet, but loud. Soft, yet strong. And the consummate peacemaker. Our mom was patient and calm, but she knew to act quickly when something was urgent. She did everything for our family…and without complaint. She would rest her eyes (which meant take a nap) just every once in a long while. She never cried. Or at least not that we could see. And she was always prepared…she always—always—had a tissue tucked into her sleeve.

She was righteous….and she was usually right. She was tolerant, but stern. Kind, but never a pushover. She loved her grandchildren. And as babies, she held them close to her like they were the glorious treasure she believed they were. Did you know she wore octagonal glasses? And that while she was born in the south and raised in the East, her accent was invisible? (Except, of course, for the way she pronounced orange (ARE-enge) and forest (FAH-rest). She knew the difference between “caramel” and “carmel”, “jewlery” and “jewelry.” With a sharp glance through the library shelves, you knew when to quiet your voice. And with a gentle pat of her hand, she reminded you that you were loved.

Mary was born in Atlanta, the day before the stock market crashed. We joked that she caused it…we will never know for sure. Born the middle child of three (older brother Maurice McGarry and younger sister Elizabeth McGarry), she moved with her family to New York City in 1930. First Brooklyn, then to the Jackson Heights area of Queens in 1934. Mary attended a Catholic grade school, St. Joan of Arc in Jackson Heights, then St. Walburga's Academy of Society of the Holy Child Jesus high school on Riverside Drive in Manhattan. She rode the bus to school for a dime, and the subway was only a nickel. She and her older brother Mac and friends spent hot summer days playing on the roof of their apartment building, before cooling off at the movies, buying candy at the corner store. Later, she became a proud big sister of her 15-year-younger sister, Elizabeth.

Mary then attended SUNY in New Paltz, NY, before she began to work at NBC as part of the guide staff in Rockefeller Center while attending Fordham University for one year. In 1949, she worked at WABY, a radio station in Albany, NY, then later in sales for WGY in Schenectady, NY. Later, she became an assistant media director at BBDO advertising in Buffalo.

In 1954, Mary decided to travel. She became a civilian employee of the U.S. Army, in hopes of being stationed in France, but the only option available was working for the U.S. Refugee screening team in Graz, Austria. Thankfully this was the case because she met our dad there—enter Richard J. Meinhard.

In June 1956, they married and moved to Champaign, IL, where Richard worked on his advanced degree and Mary worked for the University of Illinois. They had their first child, Robert, in 1957. In 1958, the family moved to Barrington, where they had five more children: Kathryn in 1959, Susan in 1960, Jean in 1962, Lisa in 1967, and Kristin (her favorite) in 1970. While each child frequently jokes about being her favorite, she actually loved them all equally and had an uncanny ability for making each one feel special.

Mary enjoyed listening to Roy Leonard on WGN radio. During the day, she often listened to artists like Ramsey Lewis and Herb Alpert. She liked popular music very much. Even in the 80s, she would say that it didn’t really matter what type of music it was, “as long as she could dance to it.” She was a troop leader for the Girl Scouts. She was a member, then president of the Barrington Junior Women's Club, and taught CCD at St. Anne's school. In 1976, Mary started part-time work at the St. Anne library while attending night school at Harper College to earn her associate degree in library science. In 1979, she became the first full-time librarian at St. Anne's. She retired in 1989. Mary enjoyed volunteering for the church over the years in several different ministries.

To say our mom left behind a legacy would be an understatement. She instilled in her children a love for travel and exploring new places. She taught us curiosity, and to always find out more by “looking it up”. She encouraged her kids to be individuals; she never made one of us feel as though we had to be like another. She donated time and money even when she didn’t have it. She gave people second chances, no matter whether they deserved it or not. And she made the people around her better, just by being herself.

Thanks for always being yourself for 93 years, Mary McGarry Meinhard, and for teaching your children to do the same. You were—and will always be—loved.

Mary is survived by her children, Bob (Becky), Kathy, Sue Smith (Bill), Jean Gilson (Chris), Lisa Sly (Bob) and Kristin Reynolds (Bill); seven grandchildren, Megan, Eric, Jake, Kate, Tom, Liz and Allie; and sister, Liz.

Visitation will be held from 930am until the time of Mass at 11am on Wednesday, September 27, 2023 at Saint Anne Catholic Community Church, 120 North Ela Street, Barrington. To join the livestream of Mary's Funeral Mass please click here: https://vimeo.com/event/3744609/0c24b52ec8

In lieu of flowers, please make a memorial donation in Mary's name to St Jude Children's Research Hospital online here: https://www.stjude.org/donate/ or via mail at 501 St Jude Place, Memphis, TN 38105.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Mary McGarry Meinhard, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services

Visitation

Wednesday, September 27, 2023

9:30 - 11:00 am (Central time)

St. Anne Catholic Community

120 Ela St, Barrington, IL 60010

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Funeral Mass

Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Starts at 11:00 am (Central time)

St. Anne Catholic Community

120 Ela St, Barrington, IL 60010

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.

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