ITHACA - Mary Goodwin Dodson Gilligan died Tuesday (April 29, 2014) at Bridges Cornell Heights at the age of 101.
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Mary was born Nov. 9, 1912, in Olean, the daughter of William Tecumseh Sherman Dodson and Jennie Agnes Fitzpatrick Dodson, and the sister of Malachi (Mal) W. Dodson. On June 16, 1939, at St. Mary of the Angels Church, Olean, she married Thomas James Gilligan.
They raised their four children in Olean in Mary's family home. Mary and Jim moved to Ithaca in 1968 when Jim was hired to work at Cornell University in the extension program. They both became very active in the Ithaca community.
Mary was a 1930 graduate of Olean High School and a 1933 graduate of St. Bonaventure University, the first class to enroll women as full-time students. She remained an active alumna of St. Bonaventure, attending a regional picnic of St. Bonaventure alumni in September, at the tender age of 100, in Ithaca's Stewart Park.
Mary taught civics at Olean High School until her marriage. She had many fond memories of her years as a teacher and always enjoyed running into former classmates and students when visiting Olean.
Mary was an active community volunteer in both Olean and Ithaca. In Olean she was a member of the College Club and King's Daughters - an organization providing services to cancer patients and also arranges for children whose family could not afford dental services to receive care. She drove for the local Head Start and Meals on Wheels, and participated in St. Mary of the Angels Altar Society. When they moved to Ithaca in 1968, she continued delivering Meals on Wheels for many years. Mary and Jim joined the St. Catherine of Siena parish and she continued her volunteerism, serving as a representative to Area Congregations Together and also participating in St. Bénezet. Her other activities included service in Mary Hibbard Aid Society at The Reconstruction Home (now Beechtree) and as a member of the Cornell Campus Club.
Mary celebrated her 100th birthday with a large gathering of family and friends, beginning with a special Mass in her honor celebrated by the Rev. Joseph Marcoux and concluding with a party at St. Catherine of Siena parish center. She moved to Bridges Cornell Heights, a small enhanced assisted living residence, shortly after her 99th birthday. She enjoyed her time there immensely, including the weekly group conversations about past and current events and especially the bridge games every Friday morning.
Throughout her long life, Mary enjoyed meeting new people and sharing in their lives. She was engaged and remained engaging with those around her until the last days of her life. She was loved and will be missed and remembered by her family and her many friends.
Mary is survived by her four children, Sally G. Dullea (Henrik) of Ithaca, Nan G. Brouilette of River Forest, Ill., Thomas James Gilligan III of Mattydale and William D. Gilligan (June) of Ithaca; and nine grandchildren, Christine Ziegler Cestaro (Marco) of Athens, Ga., Peter E. Ziegler (Kimberly Niewolny) of Blacksburg, Va., Michael James Ziegler (Terri) of Chandler, Ariz., Alan Brouilette (Emily) and Eric James Brouilette (Monica) of River Forest, Thomas James Gilligan IV (Tina) of Clay, Sara M. Gilligan of Westerville, Ohio, and Erin M. Gilligan and Patrick S. P. Gilligan (Dennis Carbone) of Ithaca. Her 12 great-grandchildren are spread from coast to coast: Caleb and Ryan Govostes; Mila Cestaro; Lucy Ziegler Niewolny; Michael, Nathan, Alexander and Catherine Ziegler; Bella, James and Molly Brouilette; and Mariah Gilligan.
She is also survived by her nephews, Richard and William Dodson, and many cousins.
She was predeceased by her husband, Jim, who died in September 1992, after an extended illness, during which Mary was his primary caregiver. In addition to her husband, she was predeceased by her parents; her brother; and her special cousin, Ann Crowley McCall, who was also born in November 1912, and raised with Mary as a sister.
Calling hours will be held from 4 to 7 p.m. Monday at the Casey Halwig & Hartle Funeral Home, 3128 W. State Road, Olean. A prayer service will be held at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday (May 6, 2014) in the funeral home, followed by a Mass of Christian Burial at 10 a.m. at St. Mary of the Angels Church. The Rev. Gregory Dobson, pastor, will be the principal celebrant along with Fr. Francis DiSpigno, OFM of St. Bonaventure University, to concelebrate. Interment will follow in St. Bonaventure Cemetery.
There will be a memorial Mass for Mary at St. Catherine of Siena Church in Ithaca at a time to be announced in early June.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made in Mary's memory to the T. James and Mary D. Gilligan Endowed Scholarship at St. Bonaventure University. Checks made payable to St. Bonaventure University with the scholarship name in the memo may be mailed to St. Bonaventure University, Attn: Kathleen Ryan, P.O. Box 2500, St. Bonaventure, NY 14778. Memorials may also be made to St. Catherine of Siena Church, 302 St. Catherine Circle, Ithaca, NY 14850, Attn: Parish Office; or to a
Online condolences may be expressed at oleanfuneralhome.com.
Casey Halwig & Hartle Funeral Home
3128 Nys Route 417 W Olean, NY 14760
Published in The Olean Times Herald on May 3, 2014