Mary Virginia Kelleher
1919 - 2011, Santa Barbara
July 15, 1919 – December 29, 2011
Born Mary Virginia Stanley in New York, she attended schools in Forest Hills and graduated with a certificate from American Institute of Banking. Shortly before the start of WW II, Mary met Gerard (“Jerry”) Kelleher on a blind date and Mary knew immediately “he was the man for me”! They had been “seriously” dating when Pearl Harbor was attacked and Jerry joined the US Army, opting for flight training in the Army Air Corps. Things were happening rapidly during those war years and Mary and Jerry were married in Forest Hills, July 31, 1942 while Jerry was home on leave.
After the war, they returned to civilian life settling in Mineola, New York and began raising their three toddler children. Then in 1950, Jerry’s Air National Guard unit was recalled for duty in the Korean War and assignment to California. Thus began a twenty-two year odyssey of travel for the Kelleher family as Jerry and Mary later decided that life in the US Air Force looked pretty nice!
Military life had them residing from Panama Canal Zone to Madrid, Spain and from the East to the West coasts of the United States. Traveling from one assignment to the next, Mary was always instrumental in helping the family adjust to their new surroundings and friends. She loved to decorate each new home, be it a rental or purchased. Mary was the quintessential Air Force officer’s wife and mother, loving to cook, entertain and support Jerry in their chosen career.
In 1972 Jerry and Mary retired from the Air Force, first spending months traveling Europe before settling in Santa Barbara, the town they fell in love with years before. Sadly, Jerry passed away in 1985, but Mary, ever the survivor, stayed in “the house they loved”, until her very last day. Theirs was a beautiful love story.
Diagnosed with breast cancer in 1997, Mary again rose to the occasion, fought the disease and confidently celebrated cancer freedom years later. Then in 2007 Mary fell breaking her hip which required a long recuperation and again she overcame adversity. But it was her wonderful heart that finally gave way and has taken her to our Lord, at 92 wonderful years. Now Mary and Jerry can share their love and martinis in eternity.
A thirty-nine year resident of Santa Barbara, Mary was preceded in death by Gerard, her husband of forty-three years and sisters Kay Huntley and Rita Sullivan. Devoted mother of three, Mary is survived by her children, Gerard, Jr (Rod) of Sacramento, Paul of Corinth, Texas and Leslie of Santa Barbara. Nana will also be greatly missed by her grandchildren, Sean, Lara, Analisa and Alexandra and great-grandchildren, Meara, Ainsley, Makena and Ryker.
Mary was a past Member of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Altar Guild; MacKenzie Park Lawn Bowls Club; and parishioner of San Roque Parish since 1990. She was a lifelong devout Catholic. A Memorial Mass to celebrate Mary’s life will be held on January 12, 2012 at 11:30 am in San Roque Church. In lieu of flowers, friends may wish to remember Hospice of Santa Barbara or The National Breast Cancer Foundation in her honor.