Mary Alice McAvoy (née Mitchell) died of natural causes on February 17, 2021 in Saskatoon at 92 years. On April 21, 1928, in Dorchester, ON, she was born to John and Alice (Fallon) Mitchell as the eleventh of thirteen children. Mary’s living siblings are Claire Feeney and Sister Loretta “Lottie” Mitchell, OSU.
Mary went to school in Dorchester then attended high school in London, ON. She graduated from Nursing School as a Registered Nurse in 1952 from St Joseph’s Hospital School of Nursing, London, ON. Mary had an adventurous heart and bravely moved to Saskatoon while the Polio epidemic was at its peak. At St. Paul’s Hospital she worked as an RN and on October 17, 1953, she married Reginald “Reg” Joseph McAvoy. After the wedding, they stayed in London until spring when they moved to a farm in Arlee, SK. In 1957, they moved to Rosetown with their first two children and began building a successful family farm while welcoming another eight children.
It goes without saying that farming in the 1960’s was a labour of love. Mary, besides being a mother, not only supported Reg with the farm but completed a nursing refresher course in 1970. Note that Reg died on May 17, 1972 at 52 years and Mary’s tenth child was born in November of that same year. Though she ruled the house with an iron fist, she also had a sense of humour. It’d take a book to recount all the funny stories but for example, picture a station wagon full of children, with Mary behind the wheel, racing a neighbour down Hwy 15! As they grew, the children became indispensable, along with neighbours, in keeping the farm prosperous while Mary took nursing shifts at the Milden hospital. In 1990, she retired and moved to Saskatoon with her youngest daughter Marcia. Throughout Mary’s life, her Catholic faith played a large role and in Saskatoon that was evidenced by her volunteering at all three hospitals, ministering to the sick with Holy Communion until 2002 when she became disabled with dementia. At home, Marcia was able to be her caregiver initially, but with Mary’s declining abilities, formal supports were used until 2015 when Mary moved to her final home at Luther Special Care Home in Saskatoon.
Mary’s legacy is her children, born and raised in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. She enjoyed travelling to Europe including pilgrimages to Lourdes and Rome. Her life story cannot be complete without mentioning her sometimes audacious, cheeky, untactful side. She was a single mother, a woman in a man’s world, with ten kids, a farm, and a career. She had the grit and strong will that was required to survive.
Mary McAvoy had 10 children:
- Mary Spicer (Gerry): children Frances, Stefan (Jen), Jacquelyn (Byron), Michael, Patty
- Rita (deceased 1983)
- Mark (Denise) – (Mark deceased 2014) children: Jacinta (Christian), John (Olivia), Annaleah, Abram
- Bernard (former wife Gail) children: Danielle (Brian), Vance (Ida), Cheryl (Cody)
- Teresa Bitz (John) children: Madeline, Katie, Ally
- Joe (Sue) children: Moira, Shannon (Miles), Nolan
- Loretta Singh (Dhanook) child: Tylor
- Michael (Rossi)
- Marcia (deceased 2018)
And numerous great grandchildren
Due to Covid-19 restrictions, a private family Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated at Our Lady of Lourdes, Saskatoon, on Tuesday, February 23rd with interment at the Rosetown Cemetery.
The children of Mary McAvoy would like to thank the Luther Special Care Home for their exceptional care of our mother. In lieu of flowers, donations to go to Luther Special Care Home, 1212 Osler Street, Saskatoon, SK, S7N 0T9.
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