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Mary O'Dowd

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Mary O’Dowd, beloved mother, grandmother, sister, and friend, passed away on Sunday, May 19, 2024 at Weill Cornell Hospital, surrounded by her daughter and niece. She was 79 years old.

Born into a house of music on December 16, 1944 in Manhasset, New York, Mary was the first child of the late John and Ellen O’Dowd. Over the years, as the O’Dowd clan grew, life brought them to Phoenix, Arizona. Mary was often known to say “I was raised with the tradition of the East, and the freedom of the West”. She shared great stories of her adventures in Phoenix and loved to recount the particularly rowdy night she saw Waylon Jennings and Johnny Cash at the Riverside Park Ballroom. The nuns at Xavier High School were none too pleased with Mary and her cohorts, although Mary never told us who ratted them out. 

Eventually, the allure of New York City called her back, and in 1965 Mary moved to Bayside, Queens with her cousins, the Tonry’s. She promised her mom that she would only stay for a year. But after many calls home filled with exciting tales of cousins, new friends, and the bourgeoning Irish and folk music scene, Ellen knew that Mary had found her new home.

It was in New York where Father Kelly and John Connolly set Mary up with Tony Pope. It was a fine match and the couple was married on September 19, 1970. They had Ellen Greevy on April 29, 1979 and Frances Alyne on March 21, 1980. Franny died tragically of Leukemia in the summer of 1981. Through their grief, Mary and Tony founded The Frances Pope Memorial Foundation to help other families with sick children. Thanks to their amazing Circle of Friends, the Foundation continues its mission to this day.

Mary was fiercely proud to be an O’Dowd and to be “100% Irish”. She was known for her beauty, but it was her kindness, her generous spirit, sense of humor and unwavering strength that she will be most remembered for. She touched the lives of many through her music, performing at Carnegie Hall on numerous occasions. Mary had a uniquely special ability to tell a story through song, and she continued to sing professionally throughout her life. She was also proud of the almost 20 years she worked at Pfizer Pharmaceuticals, where she rose through many ranks. It was not uncommon for her to sing "When New York Was Irish" for her colleagues, nor was it for her to run from the office to the Irish Pavilion for a gig.

Mary will be deeply missed by her daughter Ellen, son-in-law Ryan, and grandson Brooks, her brothers and sister, her former husband Tony and her many cousins, nieces, nephews and her cherished friends. 

Mary's departure leaves a void in the hearts of those who knew and loved her, but her spirit will forever live on in the cherished memories she left behind. We take solace in knowing that she is reunited with those who have gone before her.

Rest in peace, dear Mary. You will be remembered always.

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