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Obituary: Mary Powers McCann

Mary Powers McCann died unexpectedly on July 25, 2011 in Clearwater, FL, from complications related to heart disease. She was 77 years old.

Mary was born on Long Island in 1934 to Irish immigrant parents Martin Powers (County Wexford, Ireland) and Ellen (Nellie) Regan Powers (County Mayo, Ireland) and was the eldest daughter of 10 children.

Mary spent the first half of her life mostly in Port Washington, living first on East Shore Rd. (the current site of Hempstead Harbor Beach) and then on Highland Ave. She attended St. Peter of Alcantara Elementary School and St. Dominic’s High School, married Thomas McCann of Roslyn in 1955, and had the first of her seven children in 1956. She was an active member of St. Peter of Alcantara Catholic Church for almost 40 years, where she attended school, received her sacraments, married and baptized her children.

Mary relocated with her family to Clearwater, FL, in 1972, where she spent the remainder of her life, living first on Hibiscus St. and then at “On Top Of The World.” After finishing her first career as a stay-at-home mother, she started a 25-year career with the City of Clearwater in 1979 in order to help put her children through college at the universities of Florida, South Florida and Notre Dame. She was an active member of St. Cecilia Catholic Church for almost 40 years, and one of her greatest joys was watching her pastor, Father Larkin, installed as the Bishop of the Diocese of St. Petersburg.

Her other joys in life included the Brooklyn Dodgers; East Shore Road and the Sandbanks; Tampa Bay Bucs; Florida Gators; Notre Dame football; Irish music; Perry Como singing Ave Maria; her 1984 trip to Ireland with her brothers and sisters; her 1990 trip to the Vatican with her daughter; her co-workers at the City of Clearwater; picking wild blackberries; making Irish soda bread; gardening; crossword puzzles; the Gulf beaches; her family and spoiling her grandchildren.

As Irish immigrants in the early 1900s, Mary’s father Martin and her father in-law Thomas were pioneers at the forefront in helping to establish unions and workers’ rights in the United States. Along with her husband Tommy, they were members of Operating Engineers Unions 136 and 138 and they mined the Long Island sand which was essential to the concrete upon which Manhattan and its skyscrapers stand today (and without which neither would have been possible).

Mary’s husband Tommy, who preceded her in death in 1999, was born in Roslyn in 1927 to Irish immigrant parents, Thomas and Elizabeth McCann (Northern Ireland). Tommy was one of 11 children, a WWII Army veteran, worked for McCormack Sand & Gravel in Port Washington for 25 years and then for Keller Sales & Engineering in Dunedin, FL, for 25 years.

Mary’s Irish clan here in America includes seven children, 13 grandchildren, 9 brothers and sisters, 19 brothers in-law and sisters in-law and 69 nephews and nieces. Children – Thomas Jr. (Miami, FL; Maria Castañeda); Rory (Dunedin, FL; Cathy Pickard); Ellen (Atlanta, GA; Greg Price); Jeffrey (Atlanta, GA; Nicole Leiker); Ronald (Clearwater, FL); Matthew (Clearwater, FL; deceased); Robert (Atlanta, GA). Grandchildren – Erin McCann; Alex Hasel; Kayla McCann; Leigh McCann; Shane McCann; Hunter McCann; Taylor Leiker; Veronica McCann; Haley McCann; Ryan McCann; Elizabeth McCann; Connor McCann; April Price. Siblings – Martin Powers (Fort Lauderdale, FL; deceased; Margie Reton); Jack Powers (Fort Lauderdale, FL; deceased; Priscilla Clarke); Helen Powers (Clearwater, FL); Kitty Ludeker (Clearwater, FL; Bill Ludeker deceased); Rose Baker (Port Washington); Walter Powers (Richmond, VA; Lorraine Glowacki); Margaret Webb (Dunedin, FL; Kernan Webb); Gloria Wood (Mercer Island, WA; deceased; Jerry Wood); Kevin Powers (Rivervale, NJ; Debbie Leven).

A funeral Mass was celebrated on July 29 at St. Cecilia’s Catholic Church, Clearwater. A viewing and memorial service was held on July 30 at Rhodes Funeral Home, followed by the burial at Sylvan Abbey Memorial Park, Clearwater.

Mary was an amazing woman: she was an example of fortitude, faith, love, generosity and sacrifice; her life was singularly dedicated to her family, children, and grandchildren; she was close to all her brothers and sisters, their spouses, and her nieces and nephews; she survived the greatest loss a mother can endure when her son Matthew died at 23 in a car accident. Despite her deteriorating physical health, she traveled by plane to her children’s and grandchildren’s birthdays, weddings, graduations and all family gatherings near and far. She was an independent, strong, and reliable woman, upon whom her aging neighbors at “On Top Of The World” and all her family could and did depend. She will be forever loved and missed by all of us who knew her and loved her, and who were forever changed by her love.

Until we can all be together once again, may God hold her in the palm of His hand.