It is with profound sadness I acknowledge the passing of my precious mother, Mary Ann Vivona. Born in Sicily in 1920 she crossed the Atlantic Ocean in 1929 with her brother and mother on a 15-day voyage. They arrived in New York City where they were reunited with my grandfather. Afterwards the family moved to Endicott where my mother learned English, adapted to a new environment and became a fierce survivor. She was a proud graduate of Union Endicott High School and was named salutatorian of her class. On September 21, 1940 (her 20th birthday), she married to Jim Vivona. Together they had 4 children and were married nearly 65 years. Mary was the epitome of what a mother should be. We danced, we sang, we played endless hours of dress up and enjoyed every cut-out paper doll we could buy. She loved all kinds of music. We would sing and dance around the piano especially at Christmas time. We attended plays, operas, and musical events. Her love, attention, and passion for excellence and devotion to her family had no boundaries. Her mantra was “if something was impossible than it had to be done”. There was no quitting, no complaining, and no foolish thinking that we might get away with something inappropriate. In a word, my mom was strong, very strong. She had a hidden sense of humor and told the funniest stories. She was so proud of each of us and beamed at each and every one of our accomplishments. While raising a family, mom worked at General Electric until the birth of my brother, Jack, in 1959. Then again, the 1960’s she went to work at SUNY Binghamton in the library. To this day people, send her cards and gifts and remember her for her accuracy and attention to every detail.
Faith and family were her passions. Her faith guided her through many challenges. Mom had a license but never drove. However, there was an occasion when my dad was sick; she drove to the church for a healing mass without questioning her skills. In her mind, she believed God would not allow her to get into an accident. Beside her unwavering faith, my fondest memories of her center around baking and cooking which she did out of love for her family. She was a notable baker and would often walk across the street to share her treats with the neighbors. If it wasn’t bread, then it was cookies or pies or cakes in the oven. We were never without dessert. She acknowledged her own love for sweets and we would often have an ice cream or a chocolate or both when I would visit. She was a one-of-a-kind person and held herself to the highest standards for living. She was quick to talk about her growing up in Sicily, quick to tell you how privileged she felt to be able to vote, mesmerized by the Statue of Liberty and the American flag flying above a building. Over all of her years she never forgot her past and fiercely loved her freedoms.
Mary is predeceased by her husband, Jim, mother, father, brother, and three of her children, Palma (Jerry) Kooch, Peter (Paula) and Jack. She is survived by daughter, Josephine (Vince) Valicenti.
She was a bright light in the lives of many and she will never be forgotten. She was a teacher, a mentor, a friend, a mother and loving grandmother, and great grandmother. As the angels pave the path for her entrance into heaven, I would like to thank everyone at Good Shepherd for their help and thoughtfulness.
A Funeral Mass will be celebrated 11 am, Tuesday, May 30th at Church of the Holy Family, 3600 Phyllis Street, Endwell. Entombment will be in Calvary Cemetery, Johnson City. The family will receive friends at Tuesday the 30th at church from 10 am until Mass time at 11 am. Expressions of sympathy in her memory may be made to Good Shepherd Communities Foundation, 32 Village Drive, Endwell, NY 13760, or to the charity of one’s choice.