Mary Ann was the love of my life for 50 years, and I am inconsolable. Mary Ann was a loving and devoted wife to her husband Raymond V. Kellogg; a tireless “helicopter mother” to her daughter Gina Michelle, a loving sister to her brothers Joseph, Jerome, and John. Born to Mary Theresa Czapla (born Maguda) and Joseph J. Czapla in Olean, NY February 19th, 1955. She grew up in Franklinville, NY, attended schoolfirst at Ten Broeck Free Academy in Franklinville, NY, then later at Archbishop Walsh Catholic High School in Olean, NY. Her father was a professor of Psychiatry at St. Bonaventure University and the school Psychologist for the Franklinville school system so she was blessed with intelligence and wit. Her mother was a stay-at-home mother, but had a successful amateur career as a trained opera singer so she was blessed with a great singing voice. Her parents were Polish-American and they grew up in a part of Buffalo that was heavily Polish and Italian. She learned to cook Polish and Italian food from her mother and it was a skill that served her well all her life. Her father died when she was 12 leaving them impoverished. She fell in love with me in 1970, at the tender age of 15, much to the dismay of her mother. Seven years later we married, so we were together a total of 50 years. People say that 50 years is rare now-a-days, but we never had any doubt that we would grow old together. She received a degree in Dental Assisting from Niagara County Community College in 1979 and a degree in Dental Hygiene in 1981. We moved from the Buffalo area to Chicago and then on to Oklahoma City (Yukon) where she worked as a dental hygienist while I worked for the Rock Island Railroad, Southwestern Bell Telephone, and then AT&T Network Systems. She supported me while I got my MBA from Oklahoma City University. In 1988 we adopted Gina Michelle (then age 4) and she was the center of our universe. We discovered that if you dress a child in “one-sy” pajamas to match my tropical turquoise 1957 Chevy Bel-Aire and go to the Sonic drive in, we get free hamburgers on a Friday night. We all loved that. When I decided on a career change, in 1992, she supported me and took care of Gina through the year of prerequisites, the entry exam, and admission into the Northeastern (Oklahoma) State University College of Optometry. She was our sole means of support for 4 years. The early years of being an Optometrist were a struggle. We moved to Las Vegas (Boulder City) Nevada where she continued to be our primary means of support as I hopped from practice-to-practice. She never wavered in her devotion to her family and her tremendous work ethic “kept our heads above water” financially. We converted to the LDS faith around 1997 and she was a faithful church member the rest of her life. She loved the church and it’s members. In 2011 during the “Great Recession” I found myself unemployed in Las Vegas but a job was available at Fort Bliss Texas, 700 miles away. We were “upside down” in our mortgage, like most Las Vegans, so I moved to El Paso to work while she continued to work and be near our grandchildren in Las Vegas. We were apart for three long years, except for rare visits, but our dedication and devotion to each other was never in doubt. That’s how special she was. Eventually, the real estate market rebounded, we sold the Boulder City house, Mary Ann retired and moved to El Paso. Her last years were happy and peaceful, despite the great distance from her grandchildren. She died in her sleep, without pain, and I am sure she is in heaven with the Lord, her parents, family, and friends who have gone before her.
My wife had “superpowers”. When she went to see her primary care doctor, she was on “patient override”; a category the Doctor created just for her; she never had to wait. When she needed the car repaired, the mechanics would take the car that they were working on out of the bay so hers would get in without delay. They would also shuttle her to and from home. When she was referred to a specialist she usually got an appointment in only a few days because her doctor would personally arrange for it. The pharmacist was instructed to always refill her prescriptions and he would cover it. Finally, the property management repair crew would all show up together (which they weren’t supposed to do) the day after she reported a need for a house repair. What was her “super power”….home cooking. Her mother taught her how to make the greatest Polish-Italian dishes I’d ever eaten. She would always make extra (usually a lot extra) and give it to these people. She never asked for anything in return. She called it “giving service”. It seems that all the people who knew how to cook “old-school” are dying off, so people now-a-days are starved for old-fashioned home cooking and for a lot of people, Mary Ann was their sole source. Hence she had a “super power”. To say that we will miss her is an understatement. She has left a gaping hole in our lives that only an unwavering faith in eternal salvation can fill. Mary Ann was the love of my life for 50 years and I am inconsolable.
Raymond V. Kellogg