Mary Lou Thurber

Obituary of Mary Lou Thurber

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Mary Lou Thurber (née Rogan), born on October 7, 1930 in New York, New York, passed away peacefully on September 21, 2021, in Elmira, New York, at the age of 90. Mary Lou was one of seven siblings, the fourth, born to John and Susan (O'Doherty) Rogan, who emigrated to America from Ireland, ultimately settling in Elmira, New York, where they raised their beautiful family. She attended St. Patrick's grammar school and Elmira Catholic High School, and graduated from Elmira Free Academy. She was a graduate of St. Joseph's School of Nursing, at St. Joseph's Hospital, where, as a surgical nurse, she met the love of her life, a young engineer and decorated combat veteran just back from Korea named Myers Thurber. So smitten was he that he built an 18-foot wooden motorboat, hand-crafting it with care, and he christened it "The Mary Lou." It was the first of five watercraft in what would be a lifetime of love, boating, and memory making. In June of 1954, the two were married at St. Patrick's Church in Elmira and in the next four years welcomed three sons, whom they adored. Mary Lou and Myers moved with their young family several times, as Myers' job required, residing in Elmira, New York, Tampa, Florida, Lawrenceburg, Indiana, and Northridge, California, before returning to Elmira in time for their boys to attend Elmira Free Academy, where likely the echoes of Mary Lou's cheering them on still resound. Mary Lou and Myers traveled once again, to Brockway, Pennsylvania, before Myers' retirement, when they settled in the home Myers had designed and built for them in Elmira. There, together, they welcomed their five beloved grandchildren. Mary Lou cherished each of them, beyond words, and kept a veritable showcase of their photos and cards and crafts and accomplishments. Throughout her life, she was proud of having been a registered nurse and she kept herself abreast of the latest in medical research. A thirty-year survivor of breast cancer, Mary Lou reported for her radiation treatments in lipstick and heels, and her optimism then buoyed many of those undergoing treatment at the same time. In the decades that followed, she would quietly reach out to support women facing breast cancer themselves – offering support, research, company, caring, and unwavering faith. She credited St. Jude for interceding on behalf of her beloved Myers, who himself as a young husband and father, by the grace of God and fine medical care, beat a diagnosis of Hodgkin's Lymphoma – twice – and never missed a day of work. In recent years, Mary Lou has resided at Woodbrook Assisted Living and at the Chemung County Nursing Facility, where she received unparalleled care, love, and laughter. Mary Lou loved reading the newspaper, decorating, designing custom clothing, talking on the phone, having her hair done, entertaining, keeping her home immaculate, writing cards and notes, surprising people with half-moon cookies, coconut cream pies, and bouquets of flowers, sipping a Coke, taking a drive, befriending the Dominican Sisters and requesting their prayers for anyone in need, indulging a chocolate here and there. There was never a baby who could resist her wide, sparkling eyes and never a stranger whose hand she wouldn't reach out to hold, or a basketball shot she couldn't make. Known for her beauty, style, stiletto heels, and wit, it is ultimately her generous heart that renders her unforgettable. Mary Lou is survived by her sons and daughters-in-law, Dr. Charles Myers "Chuck" and Margaret "Maggie" Thurber, II, of Elmira, Attorney John Joseph "Jack" and Lisa Thurber, of Land O' Lakes, Florida, and Dr. Thomas James "Tom" and Julie Thurber, of Corning, New York; a brother and sister-in-law, Owen Joseph "Joe" and Mary Ann Rogan, and sister-in-law, Phyllis Ryan Rogan, of Elmira; five grandchildren, Charles Myers "Charley" and Kia Thurber, III, Erin Rogan Thurber and J.P. Harris, Joseph Fritz "Joe" Thurber, Christopher Gaines "Chris" Thurber, and John Joseph "J. J." Thurber, II; a great-grand-daughter, Charlotte Mia Thurber, and Charlotte's sibling, a great-grandchild on the way; and many nieces, nephews, and friends. Mary Lou was predeceased by her parents, John and Susan Rogan, her beloved husband, Charles Myers "Myers" Thurber, Sr., and her brother and sister-in-law, Col. John Francis "Jack" and Ann Rogan, her brothers Thomas J. "Tom" Rogan and Edward David "Ed" Rogan, and her sisters and brothers-in-law, Millicent Rogan, RN, and Fred Clark, Eileen Rogan and Donald J. "Don" White, and her nieces, Maureen Elizabeth Rogan and Mary Ann White. It was Mary Lou's wish that there be no calling hours. A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 10:00 AM, on Friday, October 1, 2021, at St. Patrick's Church, at 604 Park Place, in Elmira, New York, to celebrate her life. A livestream of the Mass will be available through the Facebook page for Most Holy Name of Jesus Parish ( Interment, with committal prayers, will follow at Woodlawn Cemetery. Over the last few years, Mary Lou and her family have witnessed countless acts of kindness, sacrifice, and generosity in the frontline healthcare workers attending to her needs, sometimes while facing serious healthcare needs of their own. For those wishing to honor the memory of Mary Lou, in lieu of flowers, the family can think of no better way to carry on a legacy of caring than to help those workers in their time of need and to help them believe that what they do for others is not unseen. To that end, the family has established a fund to help frontline healthcare workers in Chemung County who are facing a cancer diagnosis, while caring for others. This fund will be called "The Mary Lou Five Fund" and be administered by the Community Foundation of Elmira-Corning and the Finger Lakes, Inc. The fund will strive to provide five things: hope, hair care, oncology skincare, help with transportation, and a hand to hold. "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." (Jeremiah 29:11). Mary Lou never failed to encourage people to dream big, have faith, and to bring light to others. For all those who became for her a loving family, twenty four hours a day, seven days a week, to our beloved Mary Lou, especially the doctors, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, nurses, nursing assistants, dietary assistants, housekeepers, technicians, therapists, and supporting staff at the Chemung County Nursing Facility, Woodbrook Assisted Living, Visiting Angels, and Arnot Ogden Memorial Hospital, the family is eternally grateful. The family especially thanks Dr. Kimberly P. Kaffenbarger, Dr. Dayakar K. Reddy, Laurie Sweeney, RN, and Dr. Francisco Corbalan, and their staffs, for their devoted care in recent years, and Dr. Marc Greenwald, Dr. Brian Cassetta, Dr. Robert Huddle, Jr., Dr. Wende Logan-Young, and Dr. Robert Lambert, and their staffs, who provided for her cancer care years ago – and who, together, gave her light and life. To make a donation to The Mary Lou Five Fund, please visit, and specify The Mary Lou Five Fund, or mail a donation to The Community Foundation of Elmira-Corning and the Finger Lakes, at 301 South Main Street, Horseheads, New York 14845.
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Mass of Christian Burial

10:00 am
Friday, October 1, 2021
St. Patrick's Church
604 Park Pl
Elmira, New York, United States

Final Resting Place

Woodlawn Cemetery
1200 Walnut Street
Elmira, New York, United States
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Mary Lou Thurber

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Mary Lou Thurber

1930 - 2021

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