Obituary for Mary Anne Elizabeth O`Leary
Mary Anne O’Leary
In May, 1947, Mary Anne was born into an Irish farming family in Downeyville, Ontario. Her father, John O’Leary, died of Polio when Mary Anne was only six years old leaving her Mother Alice, a teacher in the local one-room school house, with six young children to raise. In 1959 Alice moved to Tweed, Ontario, and married James Kinlin, a widowed farmer who had four children of his own. Together they had four more children so that Mary Anne’s extended family totaled fourteen siblings.
After graduating from Tweed High School, Mary Anne earned a degree in Physical and Health Education at the University of Toronto teaching briefly in Ottawa, Bowmanville and Kitchener before being hired by the Toronto Catholic District School Board to teach at Senator O’Connor CSS. During this time Mary Anne met and married her husband, Peter Walther. In 1985 she was invited by the TCDSB to be the founding Principal of Mary Ward CSS in Scarborough where she introduced an innovative program of self-directed learning. In 1989 Mary Anne was appointed Superintendent of Education and worked in various capacities until she retired in 2001. Following this Mary Anne continued to demonstrate her commitment to education through her work for The Angel Foundation for Learning and the Learning Partnership. Finally, from 2004 – 2013, Mary Anne taught in the Faculty of Education at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology, Oshawa. Then in March of this year Mary Anne was awarded The Bernard Nelligan Award for her outstanding contribution to the field of Education.
Sadly, in January 2013, Mary Anne was diagnosed with an incurable brain tumour. On June 21,2014 she passed away peacefully at Markham Stouffville Hospital.
Both as an Educator and an Administrator Mary Anne has had an enduring impact on hundreds of colleagues and thousands of students who loved and respected her and will, no doubt, be saddened to hear of her passing. Mary Anne loss will be felt most intensely by her huge extended family and, in particular, by her husband Peter, her daughter, Melanie, and her son, Michael.
Visitation will take place at Chapel Ridge Funeral Home, (8911 Woodbine Ave., Markham (4 lights north of Hwy 7), 905-305-8508) on Tuesday, June 24, from 2-4 and 6-8 p.m. A funeral Mass will be celebrated on Wednesday, June 25 at St Patrick’s Catholic Church (5633 Hwy. 7, Markham) at 1:00 p.m., to be followed by a reception in the Church Hall. In memory of Mary Anne, donations to the Brain Cancer Research Centre, c/o Dr. Perry, The Odette Centre, Sunnybrook Hospital, would be appreciated by the family.