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Mary Ellen (nee Hanrahan) Senf

SENF, Mary Ellen (nee Hanrahan) - It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Mary Ellen Senf (nee Hanrahan), of Port Elgin, Ontario, formerly of South Boston, on Friday, November 16, 2018. After a courageous and doggedly determined battle with cancer, Mary passed away peacefully, surrounded by family at Chapman House in Owen Sound, Ontario. Funeral services were held Tuesday, November 20th, at St. Joseph's Church, Port Elgin. Mary was born on February 6, 1937 in Boston, Massachusetts. She was the third child and first girl for Thomas Eugene Hanrahan and Mary Ellen Hanrahan (nee Moriarty). Mary spent her childhood growing up on L Street in South Boston with her brothers Gerard, Tommy, Joey and Kevin, sister Ann and many Aunts, Uncles and cousins. Mary had an incredible love of books and reading. She spent hours upon hours at the Boston Public Library. During the war years, the librarians took a young Mary and her friends on many adventures across the city to explore museums and other cultural landmarks, sparking in her a life-long love of art and classical music. When she wasn't reading, Mary spent her time swimming at the L Street Beach, winning many medals and trophies participating in organized races in a fenced off section of the ocean. For her elementary schooling and high school years, Mary attended Gate of Heaven School, also located in South Boston. Always living life on her own terms, after high school, Mary turned down the offer of free tuition to go to nursing school, and instead opted to pursue her love of literature at the prestigious Boston College. Paying her own way through her post-secondary education, she worked for The New England Telephone and Telegraph Company during the day, attending her college classes at night. During these very busy years, she also found time to work in the library at Boston College. Here is where she decided to put her days of taking the train to New York City with the girls behind her and settle down in Milford, Connecticut. In 1971, she and her young family moved to Hamilton, Ontario. Our dad went too, but this story's not about him. Mary raised five of the most challenging children this world has ever seen, one of whom brought home, without asking, the dog from hell. We were holy terrors and she didn't abandon any of us, or the dog, which is a miracle in and of itself and a testament to her great patience. In 1976, she moved again, this time to the thriving metropolis of London, Ontario. Here she served her community volunteering as an educational assistant with special needs students as well as contributing her energies to the CWL at St. John the Divine Catholic Church. In February of 1986, she bid farewell to London and its civility to move to the wilds of Northern Ontario. When living in Thunder Bay she began a career as a support worker at the Lakehead Association of Community Living. She truly loved this job and the people she served. Before inclusion was even a word, Mary was out fighting to give all students the opportunity to reach their full potential. To continue her desire to see all students succeed, regardless of circumstance, she decided to continue the fight from the inside, so in 1990, at age 53, Mary decided to attend teacher's college at Lakehead University, obtaining her Teaching Degree. After this accomplishment, Mary again demonstrated her love of life-long learning, by earning her Masters of English Literature. Still not satisfied, she began working towards her PhD at the University of Manitoba. She did this by commuting, by bus, leaving in the very early hours of the morning, from Thunder Bay to Winnipeg and back every Thursday. When not working, studying, writing letters to politicians and newspapers to champion the underdog, or caring for her family, Mary volunteered countless hours with the CWL and as President of her Occasional Teacher Local chapter of the Elementary Teacher's Federation of Ontario. In 2002, Mary made another brave move, heading to Southern Ontario, and living on the shores of Lake Huron in Port Elgin. Here, she made a wonderful life for herself, serving people with disabilities as she worked for the Association for Community Living. She was also a very active member of St. Joseph's Parish, volunteering for many ministries and the CWL. Here she also began her fiercest battle yet when she was diagnosed with Stage 4 Esophageal Cancer. At age 78, she underwent a surgery not often survived by people half her age, and lived cancer free for 2 years, enjoying time with her grandchildren. In November 2017 the cancer returned, and again she battled fiercely. In August 2018, doctors discovered the cancer had spread to her brain and brain stem. But, in true Mary fashion, she fought and fought and fought, traveling to London to receive chemotherapy treatments. With unyielding strength and courage, not to mention a stubborn streak a mile wide, Mary, 81, living on her own, with brain cancer, decided it was time to enter Chapman House, a hospice for those with terminal illnesses. Mary fought the good fight, but succumbed to the disease, sharing her insight until her last breath. Mary is survived by her children, William, Deirdre (Andy), David (Poonam), Kathleen (Albert), and Dan. She is lovingly remembered by grandchildren David (Jessica), John (Raven), Sophia, Andrew, Isabella, Ella, Sullivan and Finley. She is also survived by brother-in-law Joseph Terio, niece Christina (Scott), nephews Joseph, Brian (Andrea), Danny (Christina), Stephen and many grandnieces and grandnephews living in the greater Boston area. Funeral Services were held Tuesday, November 20th at St. Joseph's Church, 920 Wellington St, Port Elgin, ON. Private interment to follow at Sanctuary Park. The nurses at Chapman House gave our mom amazing care. They were kind, compassionate and genuinely caring. We were touched by their compassion and humour. In lieu of flowers, our family would greatly appreciate donations to Chapman House in Mary's name. Online, https://www.canadahelps.org/en/dn/33054 or by mail, Donations Coordinator, Residential Hospice of Grey Bruce, 1725 10th Street East, Owen Sound Ontario, N4K 0G5. https://www.greybrucehospice.com/donate/13313893
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