Catholic 04

Mary Elizabeth Robertson

September 5, 1935 ~ January 9, 2022 (age 86)


Mary Robertson -9/05/1935 – 1/09/2022 - joined her God after many years in His service. Mary was born in NYC, to Donald Robertson and Margaret Stellwag Robertson. Mary was the oldest of 9 children and had a lot of practice babysitting. She attended Hartsdale Public School and had classes in sewing, home economics and music. Mary played first violin in the school orchestra. She joined the Sisters of Charity of Saint Elizabeth right after graduating valedictorian from Bayley Ellard High School. She received a BA at St Elizabeth’s College and MS in Chemistry at Notre Dame. When high school students tried to make TNT, she decided to leave teaching and became a nurse, her true calling. When the nuns moved into individual apartments, Mary felt the loss of community and left the convent after many years of service. She worked for the state of New Jersey in nursing home for a few years.

She moved to Florida for the sun and warmth and continued working as a nurse. She moved to Oregon to be close to her mother and sister Pat and family. She stayed with Peter and Pat Kane until an apartment at Mary’s Woods opened up. She was excited to become a part of the Mary’s Woods community and loved being involved in the spiritual life there; she helped Hank with outings and brought people in wheel chairs to mass. Mary enjoyed her garden plot and grew tomatoes and blueberries. She became an Associate of the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary and participated in many of their spiritual retreats. As Mary’s health declined, she moved from Independent Living to Friendship Place and finally to Villa Maria where she received compassionate care. She received the Last Rites shortly before she joined her Lord.

Mary leaves behind Arthur Robertson, Boise, Idaho; Patricia R. Kane, Hillsboro, OR; Joan R. Janowski, Bath, Maine; Paul Robertson, Dover, NJ, and Peter Robertson, Sequim, WA. She was predeceased by Franci and Richard Robertson(Houston, Texas) and Ray Robertson(Loveland, Colorado)

Memories from family.

Mary and Art were only a year and a half apart and Art remembers when they were 2 or 3 , they developed their own language. This affected Mary’s language skills greatly and she was sent to a speech therapist with a very strong New York accent. Mary kept that distinctive accent all her life. Mary was one year ahead of Art in school and he constantly heard “Oh, you are Mary’s brother, you understand that we expect 100% on every test and nothing but straight A’s from you.” Art says “She has always been non-judgmental and loving, a good person to know”.

Pat was 3 years younger than Mary and remembers their times in upstate New York. Aunt Gertrude had a log cabin up the hill from the stone house and we loved staying with her and listening to her wind up her Victrola – Caruso and Marian Anderson. We would help with chores in the morning like creosoting the cabin and read books in the afternoon (Aunt Gertrude was a children’s librarian). We had scavenger hunts for Pat’s birthday and Mary was very quick in solving the puzzles and finding the prizes. When we were not at the log cabin, we were at the stone house that dad built with help from Art and Ray. We would hike to Kinderhook Creek and have water fights and try to dunk each other. We had a well and no electricity and used kerosene lamps and flashlights. With no indoor plumbing, we had to hike to the outhouse at night and we would try to scare each other. Pat remembers Mary trying to put her in a bureau drawer because Pat was too noisy. (she was called Babbling Brook)

The school in Hartsdale was excellent and Mary played first violin in the school orchestra. (Pat was third violin) We had shop and home economics and fantastic teachers and when we moved to Assumption School in Morristown, NJ to be closer to dad’s work at Bell Labs, we all became great students – Mary was always very good. Mary entered contests at Halloween to paint scary murals on store windows and won lots of prizes. She also spent a lot of time helping mom with all the kids and yet found the talent to graduate valedictorian from Bayley Ellard High School. Mary and Pat picked out Mary’s dress for graduation since Mary was entering the convent soon and Pat would wear the dress later – it was light blue with sparkly buttons. Her little sister, Franci, developed a brain tumor when she was 6 and Mary helped mom care for her – her loss was a shock for everyone – especially Mary as she was a second mother.

Mary visited Ray and Peg Robertson when they lived on Mechanic Street in New Jersey and helped with the gardening and enjoyed playing games with Mike and Jeff and hiking in upstate New York. Peg remembers a banner Mary made for them “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade”. And that was Mary’s philosophy in life.

Niece Shannon (Pat and Peter’s daughter) remembers playing lots of word games with Mary – always a worthy opponent – Mary was very competitive. Mary enjoyed walking Peter and Pat’s dogs. When Blazer was in a lot of pain, Mary went to the local pharmacy to get Tramadol, an addictive pain medication. When the pharmacist said that was a very high dose, Mary played along and said she was in a lot of pain. The pharmacist gave her information on how to get help for drug addiction.

Brother Paul remembers when she left the convent, she needed help on how to style her hair and how to dress as a lay person. Paul does remember that she was one of the first nuns to wear a hat and not the wimple—she was thinking ahead.

Niece Jeanne (Art and Anne’s daughter) remembers Mary visiting them in California and hiking and enjoying nature with them. Jeanne liked to speak with Aunt Mary privately to seek her guidance and wisdom on “life”. She never judged, but listened with an open heart and thoughtful mind said Jeanne.

We had 2 Robertson reunions at Black Butte Ranch – it was so good to get all the family together. The first one was in 1989 and relatives came from Maine, Texas, New Jersey, California, Colorado, and Washington. Everyone took a turn cooking dinner - we had lobster and clams from Maine, Salmon from Oregon and lasagna, Chinese food and pizza. We shared photos and Aunt Linda from Texas wrote a song – There’ll Always Be a Robertson. Uncle Paul drew up a family tree. We did white water rafting on the McKenzie river and had some fierce water fights – For Richard that was one of the highlights of the Reunion

Our second Robertson Reunion was in 1993 with the usual suspects. We did lots of hiking – Cone Peak, Newberry Crater, John Day Fossil Beds and The Painted Hills. We played many competitive games of Pictionary, tennis and golf and did lots of biking.  Mary took many family photographs and made calendars for everyone.

Mary – we miss you!! Grief is the price of love!



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