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Mary Corey

Obituary of Mary Jane Corey

Mary Jane Corey, 104, of Cortland, passed away on August 1, 2021 Mary Jane Corey, neé Best, was born in Syracuse, New York on December 9, 1916. Her mother, Darlene, held a degree in Mathematics from Syracuse University; her father, Arthur, was an insurance agent. She was raised in the shadow of the Syracuse University stadium , and graduated from the same university in 1938 with a degree in business. She was a sister of Tri-Delta Sorority. After holding several jobs in Syracuse, Mary Jane took a job teaching business topics in the small town of Angelica in Western New York. She purchased a Studebaker, "Stoody", and drove there to settle into a boarding house. Mary Jane met her future husband, Robert ("Bob"), at a party thrown by the young people of the town for the new schoolteachers. They were married in December 1943, the early days of World War II and the same day that her new husband simultaneously graduated from medical school and was inducted into the Army. The early days of their marriage involved moves between various army hospitals, until he was shipped out to the Philippines after the end of the war. Their first children were born while Bob was still in the service. They moved to Cortland in in the early 1950s to begin a practice in Pediatrics. Mary Jane was a skilled sewer and seamstress, making her own suits and dresses as well as those of the children, including wedding dresses, women's business suits and head coverings for medical professionals. She always had a project on the sewing machine, from Raggedy Ann dolls to handy bags for wheelchairs and walkers that she donated locally. Some of her projects were exhibited at the NYS Fair She was interested in country antiques, and not only 'collected' local antiques, but also stripped and refinished the pieces, even restoring the original hand-painted decorations. She was a primary organizer of the annual Central New York antique show at the Cortland YWCA. An avid reader, she was always working on more than one book at a time, one upstairs and a different one downstairs. She was a student of the arts and loved museums, plays, orchestra performances and educational events. She enjoyed a broad variety of activities. She was an avid birdwatcher from anywhere, her living room window, trails in the country, and established birding sites like Sap Sucker Woods and various sites throughout the Outer Banks. Mary Jane enjoyed cross-country skiing with Bob and hunting for fossils. She and Bob travelled extensively through the US and Canada with their young children and, after the children were on their own, throughout Europe, Africa and the Middle East. The extended family vacationed together in Nags Head, North Carolina for more than fifty years. She served the community as a Board Member of the Cortland Housing Authority, was a lifetime of the Cortland Historical Society and she enjoyed her honorary membership with the Retired Nurses Assoc. She was a member and Leader at United(First) Presbyterian Cortland, and taught Sunday School or many years. She was also a Cub Scout Leader. For many years she worked with Bob in his medical office, serving as a receptionist and unofficial nurse caring for the children of the community and sharing her sage advice and kind hands with worried parents. Mary Jane always lived in the present, not dwelling on the past or afraid of the future. She was never judgmental, and encouraged young and old alike. She remained mentally sharp, and could beat anyone in the family at Scrabble, although she was allowed cheat a bit once she was in her 90s. Mary Jane and Bob had six children, two boys and four girls : Susan, Roberta ("Robin"), Thomas, Mary Elizabeth, John and Barbara. She has nine grandchildren and eight great grandchildren. A public service celebrating her life will be held at the United Presbyterian Church of Cortland on August 15 at 2 pm. Calling hours will be precede the service at 1pm and a reception will follow. To offer online condolences, please visit
A Memorial Tree was planted for Mary
We are deeply sorry for your loss ~ the staff at Wright-Beard Funeral Home