Mary I. McDonald-Grella was born in Sewickley, Pa., with that Irish glint in her eye, on May 6, 1929. Left without a mother at the age of 7, she was raised by her grandparents and aunts while her salesman father traveled for work. She aided in the raising of her younger sister, Nancy, in these early years, exhibiting the personal responsibility she carried throughout her life in caring for her family and friends. Mary was a voracious reader from early childhood, reading everything in her grasp, including the Oxford English Dictionary.
Her family moved to Garden City, where she spent her formative years. She met her husband-to-be, Michael Grella, in high school. They eloped and married in North Carolina. Mary raised six children in East Williston and managed to obtain a college degree in English, while shuffling her children to the wonders of museums and cultural events in Manhattan. She taught English on the college level for a period of time.
The family spent most summers on the East End of Long Island, where Mary had a particular fondness for the beach. It allowed her room to survey the beauty of nature, and an expanse for her children to play and swim while supplying sufficient light to read the ubiquitous book. Mary was devastated by the death of her youngest son, Tommy, in 1992.
Mary was employed in various occupations, from Elizabeth Arden cosmetic sales — and, in short order, sales manager — to doctor’s office practice manager. She eventually went to work for Nassau Downs as a manager and retired after 25 years.
She relocated to the East End of Long Island, eventually settling in New Suffolk, where she enjoyed the views from her bayfront home and the proximity of her daughters, son and many grandchildren. An intensely private person, she was exposed to many loving people while living on the East End and developed many loving relationships. She participated in her church as a Eucharistic minister and in her prayer group. She volunteered for Home Hospice and at Catholic Charities for a number of years and always took great pride in any job she took on.
She is survived by her children, Michael J. Grella, Gene M. Portillo, William F. Grella, Sam M. Grella and Elizabeth M. Scharadin; 16 grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren.
A memorial Mass will be celebrated on Friday, May 20, at 10 a.m. at Our Lady of Good Counsel Church in Mattituck. Arrangements were entrusted to Coster-Heppner Funeral Home.
This is a paid notice.