Mary Ellen Serey of Cheverly and Ocean City, Maryland, died August 22, 2022, at the age of 66. Known by some as Boo, Mary Ellen was a beloved daughter, sister, cousin, aunt, friend, classmate, and colleague in a wide circle of communities. She attended St. Ambrose Catholic School in Cheverly for elementary and junior high and graduated from Elizabeth Seton High School in Bladensburg, MD. Mary Ellen graduated with a degree in History from the University of Maryland College Park and had a long career at the U. S. Department of State. She was a member of the St. Ambrose Church in Cheverly and had fond memories of Father Kennedy, who served in that parish for many years.
Mary Ellen had a loving and generous nature. She enjoyed shopping on eBay and baking at the beach. Both activities supported her endeavors to remember birthdays and holidays without fail, baking and delivering amazing carrot cakes, Burkhart’s ‘milk cookies,’ and blond fruitcakes to one and all. Her baking repertoire expanded in recent years to include chocolate chip or oatmeal raisin cookies (for the little ones) and Guinness stout gingerbread, and she dropped the less favored ‘fourple’ chocolate cake.
Mary Ellen gave generously to family, neighbors, charities, and staff and residents at her mother’s assisted living facility. As one family member says, “Giving was her specialty. She tsunamied her grand nieces and nephews with gifts, including Legos--so many Legos!” She shared her condominium in Ocean City with family and friends and issued regular invitations to the Cheverly pool, bringing coolers of snacks for each outing. She created happy memories for the cousins and for the next generation, their kids.
Perhaps her most generous acts of love were the years of care Mary Ellen gave to both her parents during their later years. Like everyone else in the family, Annie and Reynolds knew they were loved by Mary Ellen.
Family, friends, and colleagues recognized Mary Ellen’s keen intelligence. A long-time friend from grade school remembers her as almost too smart for school. “She made the rest of us look bad.” Mary Ellen loved music, movies, books, horses, baseball, ballet performances, Shakespeare on stage, and current events. (She also loved Mikhail Baryshnikov and Ralph Fiennes, but those are different stories.) As a result of her wide knowledge, Mary Ellen was a force to be reckoned with in any trivia competition.
Mary Ellen sang in the glee club in her early years and later after retirement in a multi-voice chorale that performed at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC and traveled to the United Kingdom to sing. A classmate recalls that Mary Ellen had a great ear for music and was a good person to sit next to in the alto section. She was a supporter of the arts in its many forms. A cousin ascending (with a bullet!) in the music industry still recalls just how many of his first CDs she purchased.
Mary Ellen adopted the role of family historian and archivist and shared old photographs, documents, mementoes (hats anyone? pipes?), and odd bits of information about the many generations, locales, nicknames, and quirks of her family. In fact, she generously provided odd bits of information about nearly everything. And family members all knew not to get her started about her brother’s antics when they were growing up.
Mary Ellen advocated for her family, friends, and community. And she was a fierce advocate of the Oxford comma. Luckily, her family applied it correctly in this piece. She knew how to write long text messages (“cont.”) and always apologized for their length—but there were so many details she had to share! Of course, they were grammatically correct and punctuated according to the GPO Style Manual.
Mary Ellen is predeceased by her parents, Paul Reynolds Serey and Annabelle Theresa Serey of Cheverly. She is survived by her brother, Ren Serey and sister-in-law, Betsy Brown of Annapolis, MD; her nieces, Carolyn Serey Ehn (Christian) of Middletown, MD; Rebecca Serey (Patrick Whitman) of Jefferson, MD; and her grandnieces Abigail Ehn, Alice Ehn, and Lily Whitman; and her grand-nephew, Erik Ehn. Mary Ellen leaves behind an extended family that includes Suzy and Frank Yindra of Herndon, VA and their daughter, Sarah White (Paul Laban) and their son, Ben Laban of Kensington, MD.
Many cousins and their families in Ohio, North Carolina, Kentucky, Florida, Arizona, Oregon, Hawaii, and California add to the complement of relatives surviving Mary Ellen. Of particular note are her double cousins (two brothers married two sisters)—Ken Serey (Cathy), Jan Berryhill (Dave), and Dan Serey (Patti). Two of her dear ‘doubles’ died before Mary Ellen—Tom Serey (Randi) and most recently this summer, Rick Serey (Lisa). Mary Ellen was able to attend the services for Rick to remember him and re-connect with the family she loved so much.
Mary Ellen filled a room with her presence. She always had a compliment in her pocket—“Your home is lovely. You are so talented.” We can still hear her voice and her laugh. And we can see her snapping pictures of everyone with her phone (but don’t try to take pictures of her!). She was a fixture at family events, regularly joining in when a puzzle was out. She will be with us always because we will recite what she said and remember what she did all those times she made us giggle or say, “Awww,” or “Oh, Mary Ellen!”
A service to honor Mary Ellen will be held later this fall, with date and location TBD. For now, enjoy the photos her family has posted and please use this website to tell us your memories of her and to add pictures as you wish. That way, members of her many communities can join together to share the joy of a good-hearted woman.