Mary Elizabeth (Snelling) Lewis, of Syracuse, died at home Tuesday of natural causes, surrounded by her family and her two dogs. She was 93.
Born in Towaco, NJ in 1926, Mary Beth was graduated from Mountain Lakes High School in 1943 and went on to business school. Her first job was with American Express in Manhattan, with most of her career spent as a legal secretary for the Johnson, Gallagher & Burgio firm in Caldwell, NJ.
She is survived by two daughters: Nancy Lewis Brown and Jackie Lewis-Frenay (Gary), both of Syracuse; five grandchildren: Jon Howat, Melissa (Joe) Wall, Robert (Maria Graff) Frenay, Allie (Matthew) Frankel, and Nick Frenay; four great-grandchildren: Devon Wall, Jaden Wall, Zoey Frankel, and Noah Frankel; a niece, Karen (Rick) Stapf-Harris, and two nephews: Michael (Nikki) Fedishen and Jim Fedishen. She was predeceased by her husband, Frederick E. Lewis, her son, Skip (Frederick E. Lewis Jr.), her sister, Janet Snelling Fedishen, and her nephew, Richard Fedishen.
Mary Beth was a remarkable member of the Greatest Generation who grew up during the Depression and World War II, and carried the values of her small-town upbringing throughout her life. Married to a merchant seaman who was away for months at a time, she ran the household, paid the bills, and shepherded three children through adolescence all while working full-time, where she was valued as perhaps the most efficient - but certainly the best-dressed - person in the office.
“Gorgeous Mary” lost “Hansum Fred,” the love of her life, in 1993 (just two years shy of their 50th anniversary). She then independently oversaw extensive renovations to her home, traveled with friends and drove up Rt. 81 countless times to visit her growing family in Syracuse. After retiring at the age of 77, one day in a surprisingly spontaneous manner, she decided to leave Towaco, the small town she’d known as home her entire life, and move to Syracuse to be close to her daughters and their families. She settled in the Onondaga Hill area in a house large enough to accommodate her lovely furnishings, with a pool for the grandchildren and a wooded backyard that invited all manner of wildlife into view, something she greatly enjoyed.
In her later years, Mary’s greatest pleasures were dining out, attending theater and films, gardening, tracking the birds and deer in her ‘back forty’, spoiling her two Italian Greyhounds, and, most of all, just spending time with her family.
Beneath her sweet and mild nature was an incredibly strong, accomplished woman, who carried herself with grace and style. We will miss her every day.
Her family expresses gratitude to the caregivers who helped her remain at home, with special love to Christine Neabel who became part of our family (like a third daughter to Mary). Hospice of CNY was invaluable during her final month.
In lieu of flowers, honor her memory by living as she did:
-feed the birds
-solve puzzles (crosswords, cryptograms, jigsaw)
-help your family
-drink 5 oz. of wine each day
-sing along with Tony Bennett (and know ALL the words)
-be with nature (or watch it on TV)
-love your pets
-stay in touch with old friends
-collect Peanuts memorabilia
-eat healthily (dark chocolate excepted)
-feed a giraffe a carrot
-donate to your favorite charity in her name (one of her many is the African Wildlife Foundation)
Burial in the spring at the Montville United Methodist Church Cemetery in Towaco, NJ.,with a celebration of her life at a later date.
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