December 5, 1931 - August 14, 2019
This is the story of Mary Margaret Mallon Kearns. Mary was a strong and loving woman who will always be remembered for her plainspoken and straightforward manner in which she lived her life of 87 years. Our "Gigi" as she liked to be called by her grandchildren, was an amazing matriarch of the Kearns family and chef extraordinaire.
Mary’s story starts on December 5, 1931, the third born of 10 children to Catherine Talty and Henry Mallon who emigrated from Ireland as teenagers. Mary was born in the South Bronx, New York and lived with the growing family in a five-story walk-up. Mary attended a Catholic girls school, and as is the case with large families, each child took on a specific role in the family. Mary’s role was to shop for the family at the butcher and produce market. Mary became an expert in cuts of meats and food preparation. As Henry was a custodian on Ward Island, Mary also became an expert in budgeting and all financial matters. Those skills served her and her own family for decades to come.
Mary married her husband of 65 years, Patrick Kearns, on October 4, 1953. Mary and Patrick stayed in the South Bronx and began their own family. Sadly, Mary’s first child, also named Mary and nicknamed “Itsy” because of her small size, passed away at the age of two. Naturally, a part of Mary also died with Itsy. Mary and Pat went on to have 5 more children - Matthew, Kenneth, Kathleen, Colleen, and Michael.
Mary began her career for the New York City Police Department in 1975 as a Police Administrative Aide at the 43 Precinct in the Bronx. After several years at the 43, Mary climbed the civilian ladder and became the Principal Administrative Associate in charge of the Ceremonial Promotion Unit at 1 Police Plaza. Mary commuted from their home in Crestwood, New York after leaving Washington Heights in 1976. One may recall that the 1970s in New York City was not its heyday. With the city on the brink of bankruptcy, gas rationing and increasing violence, Mary and Pat, a firefighter with the New York City Fire Department, purchased their first home in the Crestwood section of Yonkers.
Mary was a proud member of the NYPD for 20 years. In 1994, with all their children beginning their own lives and careers, Mary and Pat moved to Hudson, Florida. They achieved their version of the American Dream - work hard in the City - enduring the snow and ice - and retire to Florida where the sun was never bright enough or hot enough. Sunshine, water and palm trees made for a glorious place to live out their golden years. Mary was a fanatical slot machine maven. She frequented Las Vegas multiple times a year and was often "comped" at her favorite casino, The Monte Carlo. Her slight frame bore the frigid temperatures of the casino as long as she had her schmatta (Yiddish for rag). We are pretty sure she ended up in the black and are still finding envelopes with cash in purses and drawers.
Mary was known for her cooking skills and her financial wizardry. With 5 children and a large phone bill, each Kearns child had to pay their portion of the rotary landline phone with a cord that reached approximately 10 feet so that there might be some resemblance of privacy in a house of 7. Mary was an expert on roasts, Italian cuisine and eventually vegetarian options for the family dog, Shannon, who needed to be put on a diet due to Granny Kearns feeding her sourballs while Granny listened to the Mets on the radio. She served her creations piping hot, otherwise, it was cold. She only lit the kitchen on fire once and as a result, was able to re-do it to her specifications. To this day, no Kearns child leaves a pan on the stove unattended.
With sons, Matthew (6) and Kenneth (3), Mary gave birth to identical twins Kathleen and Colleen. Living in a five-story walk-up, Mary would carry down Kathleen and Colleen in a laundry basket and place them in the courtyard. With brothers Matthew and Kenneth watching the twins, mother would drag the perambulator from the basement where the ‘super’ kindly let her store it. Four years later, Mary gave birth to Michael.
Mary loved Vegas and she loved the beach. Rockaway Beach was her ‘happy place’. Many summers were spent in the rented bungalow with friends coming over and singing Irish songs into the wee hours.
Mary’s grandchildren, Eamon (16), Fiona (14) and Eoin (14) were her heart and joy. She enjoyed getting their phone calls and thank you letters after a "dispersement" check was received from her. Her grandchildren showered Gigi with notes and pictures throughout her life. When they visited, she loved to serve pasta with fresh bread and butter and sweet treats for dessert.
Mary was blessed to have her second son, Kenneth, care for her over the past 4 years as her health began to decline. Mary lived her best life under his care and attention. We are all grateful to him for his selflessness to take on such an important and challenging role.
Loved ones that will miss Mary until they meet again are her husband Patrick Kearns; sons Matthew, Kenneth, and Michael; daughters Kathleen and Colleen; grandchildren Eamon, Fiona and Eoin as well as her 6 surviving siblings - Bernadine Martin, Catherine Anderson, Margaret Healy, Jimmy Mallon, Henry Mallon and Gerard Mallon.
As sad as it is to lose Mary as quickly as we did, we are ecstatic that she is now dancing a jig in Heaven with Itsy and many other family and friends.