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Mary Eleanor Walsh


1928 - 2018 Obituary Condolences
Mary Eleanor Walsh Obituary
Mary Eleanor Walsh
January 6, 1928 - December 31, 2018
Belmont
Mary Walsh, mother, wife, grandmother, gardener, avid newspaper reader, crossword puzzle solver, sea lover, proud immigrant from Ireland, and friend to all creatures great and small, died December 31st in her Belmont home.
Mary had a zest for living and for loving. She had six children and sixteen grandchildren. She made each feel special and protected. No one liked to laugh as much as she did and she daily taught a master class in warmth and acceptance. No one came to the house who didn't receive a cup of tea, a plate of cookies, a bag full of lemons, and an extra dose of self-confidence. She was Mr. Rogers before there was a Mr. Rogers - "I like you just the way you are" - except she also was very funny and not very earnest. "Get over it," she'd say if she saw a pout stewing too long. She loved literature and poetry - Seamus Heaney, W.B. Yeats, and John McGahern -- and frequently recited poems from memory that she learned as a girl. Up until the last months of her illness nothing made her happier than spending the day gardening. She began nearly every morning planting flowers or wielding a pick axe. But most of all she was her family's North Star and their ocean of love. There always seemed to be a grandchild spending the night with "Shan," as they called her. Her home had few rules, plenty of candy, and lively card games. Most importantly, she was interested in everything about them and whenever anything "good" happened for any one of them, she was the first person they would call. She also loved newspapers and politics, and was delighted when her son-in-law dedicated to her his best-selling book "State of Denial" about the failings of the Iraq War. As one daughter said, "the only thing Mom made hard for us was her last day" and that was only because she was leaving us. There were fireworks in the sky shortly after she died. For most, they were a New Year's celebration, for all of us, it was an explosion of love as she left us.
Mary Eleanor McLernon was born at Kent Lodge, her family's home, on January 6, 1928 in the village of The Spa in Tralee, County Kerry, the second of five children of Veronica (Vivi) and William (Billy) McLernon. The family eventually moved to a house called Spangle Hill in Cork and settled into a life of horses, pets, and house guests. Weekends with her siblings -- Maurice, Diana, Bill, and Brian -- were spent at equestrian competitions. Her brother Bill went on to become the most successful amateur jockey in Ireland, competing at the 1972 Olympics in Munich. Her beloved father Billy was the head of the Irish Show Jumping Association at the time of his death and her dear mother Vivi created a home where all guests were welcomed and fed. She loved dogs of every breed and size. Her pets included a hedgehog, a Pekingese called Princess Wanda Kinetha of Dartra, her favorite, a Wire-haired Terrier named Christopher, who traveled everywhere with her in her bicycle basket, and too many horses to name.
Mary was preceded in death by her husband Redmond whom she met at Kinsale Golf Club after leaving University of College Cork where she studied logic (not very successfully, as she liked to point out). She had seen Redmond, a civil engineer who had worked in Africa and London, the day before at City Hall and admired his crocodile shoes and handsome face. They married on April 12, 1955. Redmond soon proposed a one-year move to San Francisco. Though seven months pregnant with her second child, Mary agreed. They spent their first two weeks in a hotel room on Nob Hill. "If I'd had the money I would have gone back to Ireland right then," she would say. But they soon settled into a life of friends and babies, and instead of returning to Ireland they moved to Belmont. Mary said she found nothing but kindness in America. Nearly every weekend, she and Redmond would pile the six children and their dogs into the station wagon for an afternoon at Moss Beach, which reminded them of the Irish seaside. Led by the poodles, the family of eight would scramble down a steep cliffside, carrying shovels, buckets, and warm blankets (whether the sun was out or not). As a mother, Mary made her children feel completely accepted. Recently, one of her daughters told Mary "I love you" as she was leaving. Without missing a beat, Mary responded, "and I like you which is even better than loving you."
Mary is survived by her children Veronica Cafiero (Mickey), Elsa Walsh (Bob Woodward); Grail Walsh, Redmond Walsh, Diana Walsh (Kent Walker) and Daria Walsh (Bruce McNamara) and her 16 grandchildren: Tessa (Ashoke Chakrabarti), Dara, Jenna, Pearse and Mia Cafiero; Diana and Tali Woodward; Eleanor, Henry, and Billy Walsh; Quinn, Callie, and Garrett Walker; Redmond, Addie, and Mary McNamara; and two great-grandchildren Dylan and Roan Chakrabarti.
A funeral mass will be held Saturday, January 12th at 11 a.m. at Cunningham Memorial Chapel, Notre Dame de Namur University, 1500 Ralston Avenue, Belmont.
In lieu of flowers, please send donations in support of the pioneering cancer work of Dr. James Rubenstein at the UCSF Foundation, PO Box 45339, San Francisco, CA 94145-0339 and designate on the memo line that the gift is to support the Mary Walsh Cancer Research Fund. You can also give online by visiting makeagift.ucsf.edu and clicking Direct your gift to a specific area, then typing Mary Walsh Cancer Research Fund in the Other box. You may also donate in Mary's honor to support services for recent immigrants at Catholic Charities of San Francisco, 990 Eddy Street, San Francisco, CA 94109 or online at https://www.catholiccharitiessf.org/fundraising/page.html


View the online memorial for Mary Eleanor Walsh
Published in San Jose Mercury News/San Mateo County Times on Jan. 6, 2019
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