O’Malley (now the Cardinal Archbishop of Boston). Then, when he was named
bishop of the diocese of St. Thomas in the USVI, he asked Mary to help start a
newspaper there. She put her furniture in storage and left her books in the care of a
colleague and moved to St. Croix, where she was a one-woman editor, publisher,
photographer, reporter, and business manager. She got the newspaper up and
running and kept it going far beyond the original one year she originally signed on
She became an Islander herself. She lived there for nearly 15 years, surviving and
rebuilding after two major hurricanes. She weathered Hurricane Hugo on St. Croix
by holing up in one of the ancient buildings on the island that had been built by
Danish colonists with 12-foot stone walls. There was a priest who also was in that
church property with her. They carried the tabernacle to the safest part of the
building and waited out the storm together. That priest later joked that he survived
the storm “with Jesus and Mary.”
Ninety percent of the buildings on St. Croix were destroyed. Mary stayed on Island
to report and The Islander stayed in business. Eventually Mary moved to St.
Thomas and found a safe basement apartment. Then Hurricane Marilyn hit. She
wrote a hair-raising story about her experience in that hurricane. The house above
her apartment was blown away, literally.
Having lost everything she owned twice, and following other traumatic
experiences, Mary finally returned to the US mainland around the end of the
Century. She lived with family for a while and then took a job in New York City,
working for the Redemptorist Fathers in Brooklyn. She wasn’t there long, when
9/11 happened. The neighborhood where she lived in Brooklyn was home to many
first responders. The community was doubly devastated by the loss of life.
Mary worked in Brooklyn, traveling around the Baltimore Province of the
Redemptorists, until her retirement in 2011. She lived with family in Florida
briefly and then relocated to Hyattsville, where she lived until her death. She is
survived by four siblings: Neal Conway, Patrick Conway, Helen McLeary and
Diane Brown. Other survivors include her Aunt, Ann McDonald, and many nieces
and nephews and cousins from her extended but very close family.
On a personal note, Mary and I have been friends for almost 50 years. She
introduced me to my husband, her brother Neal. She made my wedding dress and
let me live with her for a few months after thieves broke into my apartment.
When I started to work at The Standard on N St. NW she welcomed me, took me
to lunch at a restaurant nearby that was owned by one of her Trinity classmates.
The Standard was an extended family to all of us in the Editorial Department. Tom
Rowan, the managing editor, gave “wise and sage advice” and was a wonderful
mentor. He was always the adult in the room. Norman McCarthy and Bob Todd
were old school journalists and Mary and I were the “college girls” on staff.
I can personally testify to Mary’s generosity, creativity and deep faith. She hosted
Thanksgiving Dinner in her tiny efficiency apartment and invited one of the people