Mary Gazda

Obituary of Mary T. Gazda

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We recently read about an exemplary philanthropist in the Fort Myers area. In an interview before he died he said that . . . "We cannot all do great things or make contributions or gifts in the eyes of the world, but we can all do little things . . . and our little things, said or done with kindness, can change one life when passed on to others, and change the world." That best sums up what we feel about our mother, Mary Killean Gazda who died on February 27, 2022. She was predeceased by her husband Stanley T. Gazda. She is survived by her son, Robert and daughter in Law, Alberta Fiori-Gazda and her daughter Patricia and son in law James Grace. And, many nieces, nephews and cousins; special nephews Thomas Gazda and William Killean, Jr. What she gave to this community was not involvement in community boards, educational publications, work, or other activities – but a template of how to be kind to others. In the end -that is what is really important to remember about a person. Mom was born to parents who were poor farmers in Groton, New York. She was extremely proud of her heritage, announcing this to anyone who asked about her background. Mom attended Binghamton schools until she dropped out of 10th grade after some girls made fun of her poorness. But she persevered. Prior to getting married – she and her sisters served as Air Wardens during the war. They patrolled the streets on the North side of town making sure everyone had their shades closed so no lights appeared to potential enemy airplanes. They had to take a civil defense test to become air wardens. She loved this country. Imagine that. Mom went on and got a job at Ansco where she met her future husband - Stanley Gazda. She had beautiful, smiling Irish eyes - - just look at the picture our dad (a professional photographer) took of her when she was in her twenties. She married and then moved to Fort Wayne, Indiana where dad was stationed during WWII at Baer Field. There she became wartime friends with Marge Dyer, who is still alive today at 105. They regularly phoned each other through the years. Imagine that. After the war she returned to Binghamton where our dad and his two brothers bought a home on Lathrop Avenue on the West side of Binghamton. I remember mom telling us that one day, as she took us to the "merry-go-round" at Recreation Park - one of the neighbors on Leroy Street yelled at her – "Go back to your country, you foreigners." Our dad was Polish. Mom was Irish. Both born in this country – she didn't get angry – she just wondered why they thought she was a foreigner? She persevered. When we were in elementary school, mom became a grade mother every year, shepherding us to Brownies, Cub Scouts, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, swim, violin and dancing lessons. She just wanted us to have more than she had growing up. She worked part time in Britt's Department Store fabric department and Fowler's book department so that we would not have to take out loans for college. All who came across her loved her. You might even have met her. She had a great sense of gab but made a point of never talking about others. She really was very sweet – and very kind to those she met. Just ask those who knew her. Mom was also a devout Catholic who reminded us of what it was like to be a Catholic in the 1940s in Binghamton. She was extremely proud of her faith. She was a founding member of St. Vincent DePaul church that started in a store front in the Vestal Plaza back in the 60's. Since she was widowed at an early age mom traveled widely with her children and her daughter's BFF, Laura Kur-Radicchi all over the United States including Key West, Route 1 - San Francisco, Pebble Beach, Monterray, Carmel, Big Sur as well as the Cabot Trail in Nova Scotia. She also traveled every summer for over 10 years with Bob and Bea Grace and their children, Kristen and Mark to Sandbridge, Virginia as well as to Cape Cod with the Grace family including Jim's mother, Mildred Grace. Mom also visited most of the Carribean islands on cruises with her children, with her good friend, Lillian Fiori, and Lil's children - John, and Joanne Sarra and their son Jon, as well as Tom and Judy Talbot. Mom visited Greece, Turkey, the British Isles and her beloved Ireland over three times. What a life for a woman, born before women could even vote, who came from nothing. That history aside, she was an awesome mom. She thought she was related to everyone on the Irish East side. If a name came up - she was sure she was a distant cousin of the person – she had such a keen interest in genealogy. And, she made a point to tell everyone she was 100% Irish. In her later years, Mom kept busy gardening, sewing, doing crosswords, reading novels, and watching all of the news channels. She could carry on a great political discussion. But, she looked at both sides of the argument. And she never got mad if she didn't agree with you. Imagine that. As she slowed down - she spent the past ten winters in Florida. She loved watching the birds and the golfers from her daughter's lanai, enjoying a daily cocktail hour and checking out the alligators on dusk rides over the course in a golf cart; or, celebrating her birthdays with her younger friends at Grandezza CC. Mom lived in her own home until 103 and still did her own checking account. Her mind was as "sharp as a tack". But a late night fall precipitated the end of her freedom to travel. When her children visited her at the beginning of her stay at Good Shepherd, she would still discuss what happened in Washington every day. But time took its toll. She lost energy and interest in what was happening around her. She wanted to be back in her own home. Unfortunately , the pandemic struck- and she was forced to be in skilled nursing. People always asked her– what contributed to her longevity – she quickly replied – "faith in God, a glass of red wine, and not taking any medications if you can help it". She watched what she ate and always, always, exercised. She walked all of the time. At 70 she thought she would take up running. At 103 she was still doing leg weights. But, most important, she admonished us – throughout our lives to be "kind and good" to others. She sure was. We believe that it was her kindness to others and her humility that afforded her a long and beautiful life. If you wish to contribute in mom's memory please consider giving to Loaves and Fishes Food Pantry at St. Vincent de Paul Blessed Sacrament Church. Or, just –try to live by her mantra –" Be Kind and Good to Others". Maybe each one of us could really change the world like the Fort Myers philanthropist suggested. Imagine that. A Funeral Mass will be offered at St. Vincent de Paul Blessed Sacrament Church, Clubhouse Road, Vestal, Thursday, April 21 at 12 noon. Burial will be in Calvary Cemetery, Johnson City. The family will receive friends at St. Vincent de Paul Blessed Sacrament Church, Thursday from 11 a.m. until 12 noon. To offer condolences to the family visit www.jamccormack.com. To view the funeral mass visit stvbs.org
Thursday
21
April

Visitation at Main Service

11:00 am - 12:00 pm
Thursday, April 21, 2022
St. Vincent De Paul Blessed Sacrament
165 Clifton Blvd.
Vestal, New York, United States
Thursday
21
April

Mass

12:00 pm
Thursday, April 21, 2022
St. Vincent De Paul Blessed Sacrament
165 Clifton Blvd.
Vestal, New York, United States

Final Resting Place

Calvary Cemetery
501 Fairview St.
Johnson City, New York, United States
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Mary