Mary Eleanor Abel Converse, 85, of Hopkinton, passed away on July 2, 2023 at Canton-Potsdam Hospital after a brief illness.
Mary was born on November 1, 1937 in Troy, New York, the eldest daughter of William H. and Eleanor Vail Abel. On February 25, 1955, she married C. Robert "Bob" Converse at the Hopkinton Congregational Church. She and Bob were proud members of the Hopkinton community for the rest of their lives, and she always considered it her hometown.
After graduating from Parishville-Hopkinton Central School in 1955, Mary stayed home to raise their growing family until enrolling in North Country Community College to become a Licensed Practical Nurse. She graduated in 1971 and was almost immediately hired at Massena Memorial Hospital. She retired in 1999, but continued to work per diem for another three years to earn her thirty-year pin. She was proud to be a nurse and continued to learn and challenge herself over the course of career, serving as a maternity and medical-surgical nurse before moving to the critical care unit. She then began working at the Veterans Clinic housed at the hospital, where she was able to apply her medical knowledge and skills while also nourishing her love of history and her deep sense of patriotism. She was honored to care for veterans and was never too busy to elicit stories from those who had served. She was particularly interested in talking with World War II veterans, members of The Greatest Generation. After retiring, Mary volunteered for many years in the Massena Free Clinic, where she continued to practice nursing and demonstrate care and compassion for those she served.
Mary valued her community and modeled for her family the importance of giving to others. For many years, she belonged to Small Town Clowns, a local troupe who brought joy to young and old alike. "Mama Mia" even recruited a couple of her granddaughters to clown around with her. For over twenty years, Mary served as the Historian for the Town of Hopkinton. She meticulously photographed and researched every property and gravestone within the township and assisted many individuals whose ancestral research brought them back to Hopkinton. She took a leadership role in organizing a wonderful Bicentennial Celebration for the Town of Hopkinton in 2002. And in 2018, she was successful in getting the Hopkinton Green, Town Hall and Congregational Church recognized in the U.S. Register of Historic Places. In 2006, she co-founded the Hopkinton Food Pantry, along with her friend Georgia Macy, an endeavor to address food insecurity in Hopkinton and the surrounding area. In her later years, she crocheted hundreds of pairs of mittens to be donated to children all over the North Country.
Her family and friends will remember Mary for her quick one-liners and sarcastic humor. Even in the darkest days of her illness, she made those around her laugh. Through her words and actions, she taught us that all things are possible through education, planning, and hard work. She showed us how to face adversity with courage while never indulging in self-pity. She lived by the words her father told her when she was a little girl: You were not put on this earth for yourself; you are here to serve others. Finally, she taught us that nothing is more precious than family.
Mary is survived by her sister, Dorothy Jean VanSchooneveld of Armancy, France; her children Dorothy Jean Converse Parker (Steve, Sr.) of Parishville, Judith Ann Converse, and William Lloyd Converse (Cindy) both of Hopkinton, and Joann Marie Converse Chambers (Peter) of Potsdam. She was a loving Nana to ten grandchildren: Steven Raymond Parker, Jr., Kristina Marie Parker (Christopher Shattuck), Robert Joseph Converse (Alexa), Jason Allen Smith (Kara), Kathryn Olivia Chambers Williams (Wes), Shelby Lynn Converse, Courtney Marie Converse, Michael Mackenzie Chambers (Mumtahena), Jenna Leigh Converse Pearson (Justin), and Megan Rae Converse; and ten great-grandchildren: William Raymond Parker, Brianna Reece Parker, Jaidyn Nicole Trimble, Ariana Rosaly Shattuck, Elliana Marie Converse, Judah Thomas Converse, Luke Norman Williams, Kaylee Mae Pearson, Noah Michael Williams, and Jade Converse. She also leaves behind a sister-in-law, Kay Converse, and many beloved nieces and nephews.
She was predeceased by her husband, C. Robert (Bob) Converse, Sr., son C. Robert Converse, Jr.; daughter, Mary Jo Converse; daughter-in-law Marie Louise Mancuso Converse; and brother, James Michael Abel.
A Celebration of Life to honor and remember Mary will be held on Saturday, August 5, 2023 from 4:00 P.M. - 6:00 P.M. at the Hopkinton Town Hall. Memorial contributions may be made to the Hopkinton Food Pantry, P.O. Box 86, Nicholville, NY 12965.