Our beloved mother officially earned her wings, leaving us peacefully at St. Ann’s Care Center in Webster, NY.
Mom was greeted by her husband, Paul; daughters, Josephine and Patricia; beloved parents, Felix and Antoinette Boyer; Tante Anna Valley; her siblings, Felix, Beatrice, Arthur, Henry, Joseph and Adrian, as well as her extended Boyer /Valley /Riley family. Mom is survived by her children, Joseph (Anne Curtin), Anne (Richard Hill) Riley-Hill, Timothy (Cheryl), James (Michelle), and Theresa Riley; 12 grandchildren, 11 great-grandchildren, many nieces, nephews, great-nieces, great-nephews, and her sister, Sr. Anne Boyer, GNSH.
Growing up in Ogdensburg, NY, from the age of 8-17, Mom suffered from debilitating earaches, endured many painful surgeries, causing her to lose a lot of school. This may be where Mom developed her courage, resilience, and strong faith in God, which served her well throughout her life.
Mom attended Holy Cross Convent School K-8, and spent two summers studying art under Charles Chapman while at their family camp in Morristown, NY. In 1937, she graduated from Ogdensburg Free Academy with an honorable mention in Art. Graduating with an education degree in 1940 from Potsdam Normal School, Mom subbed for one year in Ogdensburg, then spent 1 yr. teaching 3rd Grade at Medill School.
While we were living in Syracuse, NY, Mom taught immigrants English in the evenings at Prescott School, subbed in grades K-6, taught religious education for a total of 18 yrs. at Most Holy Rosary and later in Marcellus, NY. Somehow Mom managed to continue with art lessons, studying under Lee Coye Brown at the Everson Museum, all the while lovingly raising her children.
When asked to describe Mom, family responded with: fun, loving, gracious, hospitable, always looking for the good in others; artistic : always had a sketch pad out, inviting family to leave her a drawing whenever they visited; a writer , penning thank you notes or sending out cards just to let you know she was thinking of you; musical: singing, humming, whistling, playing the piano; an avid reader; took delight in the beauties of nature ,especially butterflies; a lover of the old time musicals; wonderful seamstress : always sewing and mending for us , creating dolls, clothing, hats, mittens; whipped up many Jell-o creations, loved apples, always kept us supplied with our favorite cookies; enjoyed going for walks and exercising, loved swimming and kept her bathing suits till the age of 98; loved to shop and excelled in returns, noted for her ability to contact 800 numbers if she had a faulty product and getting satisfaction.
If you were to ask Mom what her greatest achievement was, she would say her children. We were raised with her unconditional love and support. While she treated us all equally, the beauty of Mom was that we each secretly knew we were her favorite. Mom took great pride that we all sincerely liked each other and would often say, “I’m so happy you all get along,” and loved hearing whenever we were getting together.
When Mom moved to Rochester, NY, her priority was finding a community that had a Church and a library. St. Ann’s met her high standards. Mom spent nearly 13 years at Chapel Oaks on Portland Avenue, making new friends, and continuing to volunteer in the Church, always finding ways to help others.
Falling after her 99th birthday, Mom had to make one final transition, moving into St. Ann’s Care Center. With her usual grace, resilience, and strong faith in God, Mom made it work. The staff often commented on how Mom would lift them up with her kindness, humor and laughter, always so polite and appreciative. When they asked what her secret was to a long life, Mom replied, “Pray a lot, laugh a lot, help others.” In her final weeks Mom could still be heard singing, lifting the spirits of the dedicated caregivers who entered her room.
We were so lucky to have such an incredible lady guiding us. She was a gift, a privilege, a blessing… and we had the good fortune to call her Mom.
The family will be forever grateful to the amazing, hard-working staff at St. Ann’s, as well as the UR Hospice Team who assisted Mom in her final months.
If you wish to consider a donation in Mom’s memory, please make it to: ST. Ann’s Foundation: The Star Fund, 1500 Portland Avenue, Rochester, NY 14621-9960.
There will be a Mass to honor Mom at St. Ann’s for family when COVID restrictions are lifted.
Mom’s nephew, Daniel Reese penned this in her honor….
The Angel We Called Jac
For 103 wonderful years the Lord blessed the world and shared with us one of His most precious Angels … many of us called and knew her as Aunt Jac! She was tall and attractive, funny and kind. She made the world around her smile every day that she was alive.
And now she is in Heaven with the rest of God’s Angels, waiting for the rest of us to arrive.
We thank the Lord for sharing her with us as long as He did. Everyone who knew and met Jac, knows now that they were touched and loved at least once in their lifetime by an Angel.
And we are thankful! God bless you, Jac! We are all looking forward to seeing you again … in Heaven!