Mary Jean (Connelly) Harrington
April 4, 1939 – June 9, 2023
Beloved daughter, sister, mother, grandmother, aunt, and friend. She was preceded in death by parents, Robert and Marie Connelly; brothers Robert J. Connelly, Jr., Terrence M. Connelly, Joseph F. Connelly and Timothy Connelly. She is survived by seven children: Mary Beth Stanek (Jim), Martin Harrington (Michaela), Michael Harrington, Maureen Harrington, Marcy Thompson (Paul, deceased), Mickey Harrington, and Monica Harrington; grandchildren Nick Stanek (Emily), Jenna Hodges (Chris) and Josh Stanek, Nolan and Marin Harrington, Jovonn, Ty, and Stacee Harrington, and Luther and Alice Harrington; loving siblings Sr. Corrine Connelly, R.S.M., Dennis Connelly, Marcy Peterson, Patricia Connelly, Priscilla Quinn, and Anthony and wife Sue Connelly; and 12 nieces and nephews.
Visitation and funeral services will be held at Holy Cross Catholic Church on Saturday, June 17th. VISITATION: 9am to 11am. MASS OF CHRISTIAN BURIAL: 11am, followed by luncheon in St. Edward’s Hall at Holy Cross Church. Interment, Calvary Cemetery. Memorials are gratefully suggested to Mercy High School and Holy Cross Catholic Church. To view a live broadcast of the Mass, please visit www.heafeyheafey.com and click the “View Live Cast” button at the top of the home page.
Mary Jean was the first daughter born to Robert and Marie Connelly. The role was one of distinction in a family of 11 children growing up on Hickory Street in a home filled with so many personalities. A graduate of both Holy Cross Elementary School (1953) and Mercy High School (1957), she treasured her friendships with classmates for decades to come. Living just four blocks away, both places and communities would have a lasting presence in her life in ways that we are all grateful.
Faith, family, and friendship were held close to heart and served as pillars of strength and resilience. She treasured her connection to family and stayed close to her childhood home for nearly all of her life. A 15-minute walk with to visit our grandparents was a common adventure on a Sunday. The Connelly family home on Hickory Street gave her own seven kids the best inheritance – aunts, uncles, and an abundance of cousins nearby. Raising seven kids would be one of her biggest accomplishments thanks to our extended family. As a working mom, she would always tell us to “stick together”. If you had a tough day, she’d tell you to just “have a bowl of cereal” or “take it one day at a time.” A prayer to St. Anthony in our home was a common request amidst the clutter of the day. In her later years, she enjoyed cheering on her grandkids at their sporting events, going to the masses where they served as altar boys and girls, pulling out a deck of cards at the table (she was competitive!), celebrating Christmas holidays together, and even trying Japanese food recently – with chopsticks — as a way to spend time with her grandchildren.
Mary Jean walked in faith. She regularly attended daily mass and served as a member and leader of the Altar Society, actively helping to care for the community of parishioners and families at Holy Cross. Daily mass after working at the hospital fed her spirit and may have also provided a 30 minutes respite (aka break) before heading home to make dinner, do laundry, and get ready for the next day. She was a regular every year at the Holy Cross Festival, often working the Cake Walk and was certain that someday she would finally win the big raffle prize. Her time at Mercy continued as a member of the choir and in her adoration of Mary and the sanctity of life. Her home is a shrine to her faith – filled with prayer books, church calendars, and more. She was a loving and thoughtful Godmother. Proudly, Mary Jean’s faith and service were recognized when she was honored as a Catholic Woman of the Year for Holy Cross Parish.
Mary Jean enjoyed and truly treasured her many, many friends. Decades of “Card Club” provided laughter and an opportunity to catch up with many of the wonderful women from her days on Robin Hill Drive. We’re still not sure if they ever really played cards. Dancing at the Roam Inn brought new friendships and a chance to put on a dress and heels as she entered “middle age” which became a new chapter in her life. Lunches at Gorat’s, craft club, going to see a show, or visiting Lauritzen Gardens kept her active and connected to the many friendships she valued.
She was very proud of her decades of work at the Medical Center in the NICU. She even enrolled in a “Mini-Medical School” program so perhaps she is not the only doctor in the family. She had a very strong work ethic and was admired by so many of the doctors and nurses and support staff during her decades at the hospital. Years after she retired, it was common for her to see her former colleagues around town and of course, she’d have to stop and visit. She continued to wear her “scrubs” around the house for years after she retired.
Mary Jean enjoyed travel, often to see her kids who flew a bit farther from the nest (New York, DC, San Francisco, and Seattle were just a few destinations) and to visit her many cousins in California. Road trips to Kansas City were on the calendar to celebrate birthdays, First Communions, graduations, or to cheer for her Royals. Her biggest adventure was a trip to Italy, although we’re certain she would always consider La Casa’s to be her favorite Italian place. Most of her adventures in these final years of life were much closer to home—from quiet time in her garden and feeding the birds to running to Hy-Vee to play King’s Corners with her sisters, visits with her brothers, or for a quick trip to the post office to send a card or a note to a friend or loved one.
Mary Jean enjoyed living a good and full life. If she had her lipstick on (and she always did), she was ready to head out the door. If a Neil Diamond song would come on the radio, she was ready to sing (and sway) along. Watching an old movie like “The Odd Couple” would always make her laugh.
We are blessed by her life. We are all thankful for the time that we had her with us on this Earth and she is forever in our hearts. Thank you for holding our mother in a special place in your hearts, today and always.
Mary Beth, Martin, Michael, Maureen, Marcy, Mickey, and Monica
May you see God’s light on the path ahead when the road you walk is dark. May you always hear, even in your hour of sorrow, the gentle singing of the lark. When times are hard may hardness never turn your hardness to stone. May you always remember when the shadows fall – you do not walk alone.