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Mary Agnes Caulfield (nee O'Connor) died Tuesday, August 10, 2021 peacefully at her home with family in Bowie, Maryland. The daughter of the late Lawrence and Mary (Mannix) O’Connor, Mary was preceded in death by her husband of 37 years, Desmond S. Caulfield (1999). Mary is the loving mother of Michael Caulfield (Stephanie), Maureen Hathway (Charles), John Caulfield, and Kathleen Caulfield (Adam Peskowitz); grandmother of Maria, Joseph (Maura), Catherine (now Sister Macrina, OSB), Stephen (Rosemary), Theresa, Timothy, Peter, Thomas, Clare, and Mark Caulfield; Maggie, Colleen, Caroline, and Brigid Hathway; and Desmond and Erin Peskowitz; and great-grandmother of Michael, Cecelia, and William Caulfield; sister of Lawrence P. O'Connor and the late Winifred O'Connor; cousin of the late Elizabeth M. Dolan; also survived by many cousins, nieces, nephews and other family and friends.
Mary was born in New York City on February 13, 1937. Her father Lawrence O’Connor was an Irish immigrant. Her mother Mary (Mannix) O’Connor was from a family of Irish descent in Holyoke, Massachusetts. Mary had an older brother Lawrence and a younger sister Winifred. Sadly, Winifred (“Freddie”) died at a young age. She was also very close to her cousin Elizabeth Dolan, who was more like a sister to her than a cousin.
Mary grew up in Woodside, Queens. She attended St. Sebastian grade school in Woodside and Bishop McDonnell high school in Brooklyn. She then went to the Marry Immaculate Nursing School in Jamaica, NY. She served at that hospital as a surgical nurse until the birth of her first child.
Mary worked for a year to save enough money to secure first-class passage and accommodations on a three-month trip to Europe with her cousin Elizabeth.
Mary married Desmond Caulfield on May 12, 1962 at St. Sebastian’s. She and Desmond lived down the street from her parents at the Phipps Garden Apartments. They lived in apartment K-12. Across the hall, in K-11, lived Desmond’s brother Pat and his family. While there, Mary gave birth to Michael (1963) and Maureen (1965). Soon after Maureen’s birth, the soap opera Days of Our Lives began. Mary got hooked, and remained a “Days” fan for decades.
In 1970 Desmond, who worked for the U.S. Custom’s Bureau, was transferred from New York to Washington DC. The family then moved to Bowie, Maryland, a suburb of Washington. Mary never needed to drive in New York, but learned to drive and got her license soon after moving to Maryland. Here Mary gave birth to John (1973) and Kathleen (1975).
Mary became good friends with her mother Mary as an adult. She grieved when her mother died of a heart attack in 1974. Mary adored her father Lawrence. After her mother’s death, Lawrence spent about six weeks with Mary’s family every holiday season. He also spent a few weeks each summer. Mary never had anything but praise for her father.
Mary enjoyed tennis, swimming, and taking long walks. She was happy to play soccer with her children, even when they were young adults, in the backyard. She volunteered at her children’s school as a PE teacher and as a school nurse. She was also adept at sewing; she not only repaired clothes but sewed new outfits for Maureen.
Mary loved Sacred Heart parish in Bowie. She frequently went to daily Mass, and almost always arrived early so that she had time to pray the Rosary before Mass. During Lent, she got her children up for 6:30am Mass each day. She also made sure the family participated in the Stations of the Cross each Friday of Lent. Mary also volunteered in the parish video library and took a regular turn cleaning the church. She regularly donated food to “SOME” (So Others May Eat).
Mary had good friends in her neighbors Marita Gentile and Katherine Huang. The three of them kept a monthly breakfast date for many years.
Mary had a selfless and generous heart. When her brother-in-law Pat’s family was having difficulties, she and Desmond took her niece Mary and her nephew Chris in to their home for almost an entire school year. This was just before her youngest, Kathleen, had her first birthday. Later, when her father Lawrence began experiencing symptoms of dementia, Mary and Desmond had an extension built and invited Lawrence to live with them. Unfortunately, Lawrence died only four months after moving in.
Mary’s children were her joy. She loved her sixteen grandchildren, who called her Grandma.
Mary was diagnosed with Type I Diabetes when she was 44 years old. This plagued her for the rest of her life, as she found it difficult to control her blood sugar levels. She hated the negative impact diabetes had on her life. Knowing that smoking would exacerbate the trouble with diabetes, she bravely gave up her lifelong habit. This was made harder by the fact that Desmond continued to smoke. When she was in her 70s, Mary began to experience symptoms of dementia. For the last eight years of her life, her condition and her mental abilities slowly but inexorably declined. She suffered a stroke in 2015 that eventually made it almost impossible for her to communicate. Throughout her life and her various health problems, she would comment on her difficulties but did not complain. Finally, she lost her interest and ability to eat and drink and died on August 10, 2021, the feast of St. Lawrence, the patron of her beloved father.
Visitation will be from 6pm to 8pm on Sunday, August 15 at Sacred Heart Catholic Church, 16501 Annapolis Road, Bowie, Maryland 20715. The Mass of Christian Burial will be at 11am on Monday, August 16 at the Sacred Heart Chapel, 16301 Annapolis Road, Bowie, Maryland 20715. Interment to follow at Sacred Heart Cemetery. In accordance with Prince George's County guidelines, masks are required while indoors for the services.
In lieu of flowers, donations in Mary's name may be made to the Monastery of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, 4103 VT Rte100, Westfield, VT 05874, ihmwestfield.com; or to the Little Sisters of the Poor Jeanne Jugan Residence, 4200 Harewood Road, NE Washington, DC 20017-1554, littlesistersofthepoorwashingtondc.org