WADDELL (MCGUINNESS), Mary
Mary McGuinness Waddell, 94, of Brookhaven, Georgia and the matriarch of her family, passed away on November 26 at Emory St. Joseph's Hospital with her family by her side. Mary was an extraordinary woman! Intelligent, witty, down to earth, loving, charming and warm; determined to make her own decisions to the very end of her life.
Mary was born in Manhattan, New York to James and Anna McHugh McGuinness on August 18, 1927. She attended St. Barnabas High School in the Bronx and graduated from Fordham University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry before joining the global headquarters of the New York City-based public relations firm Carl Byoir & Associates. While she excelled as her assigned position as an executive secretary, her charm, personality, girl-next-door looks and yes-I-can attitude earned her extra assignments, such as serving as a model in a number of the company's photography shoots for client products and serving as a hand model for photos of agency advertising for medicinal products. She even was called upon for an urgent assignment to fill in one day when then-called weather girl at the local NBC affiliate morning news show in New York City couldn't make it to the TV station in time for the live broadcast. Mary said it was her firstand lasttime doing TV weather.
It was at Carl Byoir where she met account executive William Llewellyn Waddell, a charming Southerner from Alabama who became the love of her life. They married on January 27, 1962, in New York City, later moving to Westport Connecticut, and finally, to Atlanta, Georgia in January of 1971, when Bill became Executive Vice President and General Manager of the newly opened Atlanta office of Carl Byoir & Associates.
Mary embraced family life as a professional calling, blending her executive management and organizational skills with the art and science of home economics and child raising. She entered her marriage as a stepmother to Bill's daughter, Lee, and later gave birth to two other daughters, Mary Anne and Mary Elizabeth. She ran her family as if she were an air traffic controller, with family breakfasts and dinners promptlyand perfectly prepared and laid outon the table and schedules for her daughters' reading, cooking, homework, playing inside and outside, family time and talking with grandmother on the phone. A strong writer and editor from her college and career days, she made a point to write perfect thank you notes, invitations and correspondence, and coached her children on writing and grammar. To this day, they still can diagram a sentence.
Aptly named by her parents, Mary was merry in her soul and full of the joy of life, making every day a party for her daughters and husband, inviting people for dinners and turning out perfect meal after perfect meal. And she loved entertaining on a bigger scale, especially at the holidays. The Waddell home was legendary among friends and family for Mary's lavish Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas food and celebrations. But born as a McGuinness, her favorite celebration was St. Patrick's Day. Mary spent weeks cooking and preparing magazine-worthy finger food; tiny sandwiches cut into different shapes with edges dipped in minced watercress; meat, cheese and vegetable rolls, magnificent Jell-O salad creations, along with organizing decorations and planning entertainment for the roughly 100 guests who attended annual Waddell family St. Patrick's Day parties that ran for about 20 years. Had Martha Stewart been around, she would have met her match in Mary Waddell.
Mary was such a terrific cook, however, that her family rarely went out to dinner, preferring the productions created from her garden and behind her kitchen doors and set so perfectly on their dinner table that no one had to get up for salt or pepper, a missed fork or unfilled glass of water. She was no contrary Mary; this Mary followed the rules. Her children said they felt as if they grew up inside a Norman Rockwell postcard.
Mary was a practitioner of holistic living long before the concept was even defined. An avid gardener, she grew most of the family's vegetables and believed that good food, vitamins, supplements and exercise could cure anything. Her own life is an example of this determination. She never visited a doctor after her youngest daughter was born 56 years ago, refused any medicine except an occasional aspirin and lived to be a hearty 94. She was fully active and determined to remain so, even after breaking her pelvis a few weeks before her death. In the rehab facility where she was sent to recover, she astonished the nervous physical therapists when she got out of bed, grabbed the walker and took off, saying, "You say I can't walk? Yes I can!"
Her name was apt because she was merry in her soul. She loved music and dancing. At Bill's 50th anniversary celebration at the University of Georgia, their youngest daughter, Mary Elizabeth, invited them to out to some campus parties after the anniversary event. Bill was tired and wanted to go to bed. So, Mary Elizabeth invited her mom to go out, and once again, Mary said "Yes I can," and spent the evening fraternity hopping, dancing and sipping cocktails with her college-age daughter and friends. During her last days of life, Mary still had fun answering callers on her cell phone soliciting her to renew her car warranty, when she didn't own a car. "You buy me the car and I'll buy the warranty," she laughingly told the callers.
Her name also was apt because it was the Catholic Church that made Mary who she was, a faithful Catholic, devoted especially to her namesake, the Blessed Virgin Mary, mother of Jesus Christ. When she moved to Atlanta, Mary became a parishioner of Our Lady of The Assumption (OLA) Church, where she attended weekly Mass with her children and sent them to the OLA elementary school. She spent her entire married life trying to convince her husband, Bill to become a Catholic, and finally succeeded when he converted to Catholicism shortly before his death in 1990. Yes, she could! She also volunteered as a Girl Scout leader, a member of the local garden club as well as the Atlanta Chapter of the Alpha Chi Omega Mother's Club.
Mary Waddell was preceded in death by her husband William Waddell, her sisters Sabina McGuinness Casey, and Little Mary, brothers James and Frances McGuinness, parents James and Anna McGuinness and son-in-law, Declan McCarthy.
Mary is survived by one sister, Ann Rose McGuinness Erinc. She also is survived by her daughter, Mary Anne Waddell Sutter and son in law Tony Sutter; her daughter, Mary Elizabeth Waddell Sadd and son in law Randy Sadd; and her stepdaughter, Esther Lee Waddell McCarthy. Mary will be especially missed by her grandchildren Jacob Sadd, Luke Sadd, Caleb Sadd, Annalise Sutter, Anastasia Sutter, all of whom were lucky enough to grow to young adulthood with their grandmother actively part of their lives in Atlanta, and Jesus McCarthy and wife Yeimi McCarthy. Jesus grew up in Florida but loved his grandmother as ardently as if they had lived together. Other family members who survive Mary Waddell are great-grandchildren Derick McCarthy and Dylan McCarthy along with many loving nieces, nephews, grand nieces and nephews and her godchildren, Brian McGuinness, and Laura McGuinness.
Visitation will be December 3, 2021, from 6:00 PM to 7:00 PM at the H.M. Patterson & Son Oglethorpe Hill Chapel at 4550 Peachtree Road NE, Atlanta, GA 30319, followed by a Rosary Service from 7:30 to 8:00 PM at the same location. A funeral Mass will be celebrated in Mary's honor on December 4, 2021, at 11:30 AM at Our Lady of The Assumption Catholic Church, 1406 Hearst Drive NE, Atlanta GA, 30319
The committal service will be held December 4, 2021, at 1:00 PM at Arlington Memorial Park, 201 Mt. Vernon Highway NW, Sandy Springs, GA 30328. All events are open to friends who wish to join the Waddell family in the prayerful last services they can provide for their beloved Mary. While Mary refused to be vaccinated, (if you've read this far, you already know she didn't take medicine) the family welcomes anyone who prefers to wear a mask at all the events.
In lieu of flowers, please consider a gift in memory of Mary Waddell to the St. Vincent de Paul Conference, OLA, 1406 Hearst Drive, Brookhaven, GA 30319 or Sunday Mass at Mercy Home, 1140 W. Jackson Blvd., Chicago, IL 60607.