Mary E. Gleason, of Orlando, Florida (formerly of Sun City Center, formerly of Brookhaven, NY) born the youngest of 3 children to Frank and Florence Tabel of Richmond Hill, Queens arrived into the world on September 11th, 1939. She was the apple of her father’s eyes, and her youngest brother John, both now deceased. Mary would tag along with Franklin and John, her lifeguard brothers at their summer home, the “bungalow”, out on Long Island’s south shore community of Mastic Beach. Her childhood was self-described as “charmed”. She often referred to her summers at the beach as the happiest times of her life. Mary grew up singing, as was her passion, in church choirs and later she would sing in All City Chorus in New York, as she attended Richmond Hill High School and graduated with musical honors in 1957. Mary had wanted to study opera and music in New York, but after her father’s death when she was only seventeen, she instead had to go out and work. She went to banking school and became a teller at a bank, where she later met her would-be husband, James Gleason.
Jim and Mary set up house in Woodside, Queens but later moved out to Long Island’s South Shore community of Bellport, where they carved out a slice of the American dream and became involved in Mary Immaculate RC Church, she singing and he becoming playing the organ. They played weddings on weekends, often dragging their 2 hellions, Jim & Laura in tow. Mary took her faith seriously and became a Eucharistic Minister in the church, handing out communion. Family events & friends were a large part of life and Mary would often bring 2 signatures dishes to these events. Her seven-layer salad, that went over like fruitcake, but her signature brownies were LEGENDARY. Once she showed up without them and it was heresy.
Mary either cooked for you, sang to you or prayed for you. If you were lucky, you were the recipient of all three, as her children and beloved granddaughter Jaden were. When she prayed, it was solemn. While growing up, her children were convinced that when she prayed for someone or something, she made it true. The house on Long Island was always filled with something baking in the kitchen, and Mary’s singing, especially on Sunday mornings when she would sing along with “ole blue eyes” on the radio. Then James would come home from church and they would all eat a big Sunday breakfast together.
Mary was cooking right up until the end, stirring sauce on the stove and baking ziti in the oven and mixing cocktails for company. It was all hallucinations of course, but she was happy, so it didn’t matter.
She was proclaimed by her daughter the “polyester pant queen of America” and always matched her bag to her shoes. Mary was never more proud of herself than the morning of surgery when the nurse commented in front of her fashionista daughter that her polyester pants matched perfectly to her printed blouse. The woman owned every color of the rainbow in polyester pants and she still wore “dusters” and housecoats.
Mary entered eternal life on September 27th, 2017 and the choirs of angels received another. She is survived by brother Franklin & wife Marilyn Tabel of Happague, NY; son, James J. Gleason of Ruskin, Florida; daughter Laura M. Browne and fiance Sal Ghobrial of West Orange, NJ; beloved granddaughter Jaden Willow Browne; and beloved nieces & nephews.
*Services will be held in Florida: Wednesday, October 18, 2017 at 11am, Catholic Funeral Mass at Prince of Peace Catholic Church in Sun City, 702 Valley Forge Blvd., Sun City Center, FL 33573. Father Kovanis will preside.
** A Memorial Service will be held in New Jersey: date TBD
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center at https://giving.mskcc.org.