Cover photo for Mary Mahon Waggener's Obituary
Mary Mahon Waggener Profile Photo
1937 Mary 2023

Mary Mahon Waggener

May 15, 1937 — May 14, 2023


Mary “Tita” Mahon Waggener died May 14, 2023, in hospice care encircled by us, her daughters, who loved her fiercely. A 15-year survivor of pancreatic cancer, our mother was a miracle of resilience and a role model for grit and fortitude, believing wholeheartedly in the power of prayers and that God would never give her a burden she couldn’t shoulder.

A proud Texan, she was born May 15, 1937, in El Paso and attended American schools in Mexico City, Texas Western College (now UTEP) and graduate studies at University of Texas, Austin. She was a fluent Spanish speaker and became a middle and high school Spanish teacher. Her favorite flower was the yellow rose, she made delicious homemade tamales, enjoyed an occasional Dos Equis beer, loved music with Latino flair or a country twang, and was a proud member of Delta Delta Delta sorority.     

She met our father, her husband of 62 years, on a blind date to a fraternity formal. They courted long distance while our father was in basic training and married on December 28, 1959. They honeymooned at the Grand Canyon and settled in the suburbs of Chicago, the first of many homes during their marriage. Their first child, Bill, was born in 1960, and then three daughters (Janet, Cathy, Jill) followed in the next decade. They crisscrossed the United States, following our father’s career opportunities at Mobil Oil Corp, living in Hinsdale and Glen Ellyn IL; Akron, OH; Darien, CT (3 times); Palos Verdes Estates, CA; Walnut Creek, CA; McLean, VA; Great Falls, VA; and finally Davidson, NC. The two of them made an amazing team.

Our mother single-handedly created a home and a community around us wherever we lived. There was always a guest room waiting and a casserole in the fridge. She planted colorful gardens and loved feeding the birds and wildlife. As the OG stay-at-home mom, she was as a Girl Scout leader, CCD teacher, PTA member, substitute teacher, field trip chaperone, tutor, faithful churchgoer, and caring neighbor and friend. She was a “sports mom” before it was trendy, driving carpools in the station wagon, arriving with Tupperware of sliced oranges, wrapping sprained ankles, and cheering loudly even though she didn’t know the rules. She was a horrible game-day videographer, however, because she got too excited to hold the camera steady. She was an athlete herself, playing tennis and golf (even acing a hole-in-one), and liked board games, jigsaw puzzles, and playing bridge.

She was an excellent crafter and seamstress, making homemade curtains and pillows, reupholstering furniture, and sewing everything from bridesmaid dresses to Halloween costumes. She enjoyed her time with Newcomers Clubs in each new city, 9-hole golf at River Bend Country Club, and her book club.

When our father took an international marketing job, she became a world traveler—to Australia, Africa, South America, and all over Asia. She was thrilled by life’s adventures but mostly encouraged us to find a home base and build a happy life. She was present, loyal, and endlessly patient. When our brother died from a brain tumor at age 37, she leaned heavily on her Catholic faith and drew from a deep-seated well of strength and dignity. We joked that she had a direct line to God, so when she prayed for you, it meant something!

By far, our mother’s greatest talent was as a caregiver. A perfect loving counterpoint to our father’s quick wit and even quicker temper, she was calm and contemplative. She loved us uniquely and cherished each member of our clan which include her daughters Janet Kilbane (Chris); Cathy Smith (David); Jill Troy (Owen); daughter-in-law Natalie Sawyer (Steve); her eleven grandchildren James (Savannah), Ryan (Jordan), Michael (Hythus), Brandon (Isabelle), Connor (fiancée Maggie), Rachel (Taylor), Daniel, Mary, Dylan, Devin Rose, & Tatum; and her two great-grandsons Liam and Rowan.  Her heart was filled with the love of many nieces and nephews, step-grandchildren, numerous grand-puppies, and friends from all over the world.

Along with our father James and brother William, she is preceded in death by her parents William and Emma, brothers Bill and Arthur, and siblings-in-law Olive and Bob, and so many close friends. While her absence will be unmistakable, we believe that she is free from pain and reunited with her favorite people, snacking on some sugar-laden treat she was deprived of while on earth.

A funeral service and reception will be held on Monday, June 26, 2023, at 10:00 AM at her home parish, St. Catherine of Siena Catholic Church, 1020 Springvale Rd, Great Falls, VA 22066. Inurnment will follow at Laurel Hill Cemetery, 10127 Plank Rd, Spotsylvania Courthouse, VA.  Memorial donations may be made to St. Catherine of Siena Catholic Church or S. Mitchell Mack Hospice House, 1325 Mecklenburg Hwy, Mooresville, NC 28115.

We will miss her everyday.

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Service Schedule

Past Services

Funeral Service & Reception

Monday, June 26, 2023

Starts at 10:00 am (Eastern time)

St. Catherine of Siena Catholic Church

1020 Springvale Rd, Great Falls, VA 22066

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Monday, June 26, 2023

Following the Funeral Service

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