Mary E. Cornish, age 75, passed away at F.F. Thompson Hospital in Canandaigua on January 3, 2017 after a short illness. She is survived by Christopher (Vicky) Cornish, son; Jennifer Cornish (Kevin Baird), daughter; brothers James (Linda) Edgar, Jack (Shirley) Edgar , Gary (Sandra) Edgar, Ronald Edgar and Donald Edgar; grandchildren Chelsey Miro-Quesada, Liam Cornish, Wyatt Cornish and Morgan Baird and close friend Blanche Warner. She was predeceased by brothers Lee Edgar, Robert Edgar, Raymond Edgar, sister Donna Shaner and ex-husband Ronald Cornish. She is also survived by sisters-in-law Marilyn Cornish, Rosalie Frank, Joanne Wallace, Sally Cornish and brother-in-law Edward Cornish, countless close friends in Naples and many nieces and nephews.
Mary was born in Saltsburg, Pennsylvania in 1941 to the late James and Mary Grace (McIntyre) Edgar. She graduated May 1964 from Indiana University of Pennsylvania with a degree in elementary education.
In the summer of 1964, she moved to Naples under the encouragement of former Neapolitan Bob Woodard, taking a position as fifth grade teacher at Naples Central School. She found great success as a first-year educator and she would remain a top-rated teacher in the school system for her three-decade career becoming teacher of the year for 1991-1992. Mary developed a well-deserved reputation as an extraordinarily effective educator who "left no child behind" decades before it became a national education policy slogan. Throughout her career, she tutored struggling students during the summer break and after school and challenged highly capable students who needed a push. Former students stayed in touch over the years, checking in, saying thanks, always remembering and often seeking her guidance. Their tributes on social media are but one of many testaments to her lasting influence on their lives.
Mary retired from Naples Central School system in 1998, after teaching close to 1000 students over 34 years. It was often said of Mary that she worked as hard in "retirement" as she did in her career. She was a longtime board member and supporter of the Bristol Valley Theater who yearly hosted "summer stock" actors in her house, making them feel at home from their first step into her kitchen. She was a founder of Hospeace House and delivered Meals on Wheels through the Ontario County Office for the Aging. She was a prodigious fundraiser. No one ever said no when she made "the ask."
She was fearless in adversity; dauntless as she helped family and friends meet the challenges of life, and death. "One of Mary's greatest attributes was empathy," notes longtime friend Blanche Warner. "She was a very caring person and drew out the best in everyone."
Mary was one of those extraordinary "community pillars" remarks Naples resident, Chris Abraham. "She did so much and contributed in so many ways that her absence will be felt acutely. It will require a lot of us to do the work she did in Naples. She was a genuinely good person."
A celebration of her life will take place in Naples on April 22nd, 2017 with further details to be announced in the spring. Memorial contributions can be made to the Bristol Valley Theater, and Naples Ambulance Inc.