of Leominster, world traveler; 86
LEOMINSTER -- Mary Cronin, 86, who visited all seven continents during her retirement years when she first set out to see the world, died peacefully Sunday morning (December 23). at the Apple Valley Center in Ayer where she had been living since August 1.
She was an intrepid and fearless traveler. She hiked in the Swiss Alps, went on safari in Tanzania, rode in a hot air balloon over the Serengeti, bungee jumped in New Zealand, documented in photographs seemingly the entire kangaroo population of Australia, camped on Baffin Island and from there rode in a sled northward, managed, but barely, to eat fish that had been buried in snow with the native Icelanders, took a Russian ice breaker from the southernmost tip of Argentina to Antarctica, where they had to slide down a chute to a smaller boat to actually set foot on the icy shore, crossed the Bering Strait and mingled with the native people in Siberia, spent months on a catamaran sailing around the Caribbean, and, except for the Caribbean trip, always managed to leave enough dinners that she prepared and then froze to see her husband, Jack Cronin, through her worldwide jaunts.
Mary Cronin was born in the Bronx, New York City, to Catherine Serrell, a homemaker, and John Doucette, a steeple jack iron worker immortalized in many of the famous photos of the building of the Empire State Building and Rockefeller Center. She was the second of three daughters. The family moved to Waterbury, CT in 1934. She attended St. Mary's Grade School and Waterbury Catholic High School. During World War II, she worked after school on the 3-11 shift at a factory that made gyroscopes for Navy ships. She attended the University of Connecticut but quit her studies in favor of a job with the Loft Candy Co., for which she quickly became a regional manager, covering their stores in New England, NY, and PA. One of her favorite anecdotes was about when she had a meeting with John D. Rockefeller and convinced him to put a candy counter at Rockefeller Center in New York City. Following her move to Lunenburg in 1957 with her family, she was a stay-at-home mother while her children were young. Back in the 1950s and early 1960s when the lakes and ponds actually froze in the winter, she could be seen behind the wheel of a neighbor's racing car on Lake Whalom in what was then called the Powder Puff Derby, the ladies only competition. The family moved to Leominster on that day that lives on in infamy, Nov. 22, 1963. When she reentered the workforce, she taught Physical Education at the former Holy Family Grade School and Holy Family High School in Fitchburg, and at Julie Country Day School in Leominster. She later worked at Sears Roebuck Co. in Leominster, where she was the head cashier. Taking her responsibilities seriously, she once walked through a blinding snowstorm from her house up by Leominster High School to the Searstown shopping mall to open the safe as she was one of the few people who knew the combination and the only one able to get there that day. When she retired from Sears, she worked for Dr. Lawrence Brenner on the business side of the dental office. She was a life-long exercise fanatic and early proponent of healthy eating and daily workouts. She was a long-time member of the Fitchburg YMCA and later Orchard Hills Athletic Club in Lancaster. She had many hiking friends from Orchard Hills, all of them considerably younger, with whom she spent many enjoyable hours hiking through the woods and up and down local mountains. In her later years, she walked around her neighborhood rain or shine, on the hottest days and during ice storms. In her later years, many kind neighbors accompanied her when they saw her approaching to see her safely home and to also listen to tales of her world travels.
Mrs. Cronin leaves two children, Beverly Cronin of Leominster, and John J. Cronin Jr., of Ghent, NY; five grandchildren, Catherine Marcoux of Durham, NC; Antoinette Marcoux, of Boston; Jeremiah, Mackenzie, and Angelica of Ghent, NY; two sisters, Jean Burke of Mystic, CT; and Catherine Ale of Ulster Park, NY; and many nieces and nephews and grand nieces and nephews. Her husband of 49 years, John Cronin Sr., died in 2001.
CRONIN -- The Silas F. Richardson & Son Funeral Home in Leominster is in charge of arrangements. There are no calling hours. A Funeral Mass will be said at St. Leo's Church, 128 Main Street, in Leominster on January 19 at 11:30 a.m. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Leominster Public Library, 30 West St., Leominster, MA 01453. www.richardsonfuneralhome.net