When lifelong Bernard resident Anne (Molony) Feeney died Aug. 12, it was tantamount to closing down a section of the library dealing with the town’s history. At 99 years of age, Feeney was a well-loved part of Bernard and touched the lives of many, both physically and figuratively.
A mother of seven, Feeney’s essence was neatly summed up in a sentence in her obituary, which stated, “Although her hands conquered endless mountains of dishes and peeled tons of potatoes, they never lost their softness or their gentle touch.”
It was those same hands that touched many as a nurse, first in the operating room and later, in the nursery. She also used them to bake cinnamon rolls and chocolate chip cookies that were known and coveted throughout the Bernard area.
She was known and loved by many, but her children, who knew her best, shared some of the stories behind what made her special.
Of her unwavering Catholic faith, daughter Mary Wilfer said, “Mom was very devout. She had to have her rosary with her at all times. Her faith was constant in her life. Mom would try to ‘pray away’ any situations that came her way.”
Son, Patrick, added, “When mom prayed for people she was not only praying for the special intentions, well-being, or need of a change or a shot of better luck, she also prayed for people’s souls so they would all get into Heaven.”
Daughter, Sheila Viel, also said, “She prayed for people all over the world. She also sent prayer requests to religious orders. When her prayers were answered, she often wrote to the religious group to let them know about the outcome. Last summer, one of the thank-you notes was published in the Leaves magazine. Mom thanked the group because another healthy grandson, Isaac, had arrived on earth. What she did not mention was that this particular grandson has a mother who is a member of the Jewish faith. Mom could be very ecumenical.”
As for Anne’s heavenly baking skills, daughter Mary said of the chocolate chip cookies, “Many of the brothers’ friends would stop by and grab a handful. When we had a 90th birthday party for mom, she made many batches of cookies to give away. That was her signature to many relatives and friends. I received lots of ‘care’ packages when I was in college. Her cookies were the best way to receive her love while I was away.”
Son, Patrick, didn’t recall any particular recipe. “I never remember mom measuring the ingredients to her cookie recipe. She just had a feel for the correct portions.”
Anne also had a thirst for knowledge, and that remained with her throughout her lifetime, after beginning at a very young age.
“Mom was the fourth of 10 children,” said Patrick. “When she was 4 years and 9 months old, she started first grade, because there were two younger siblings in the household at the time and another one was on the way. Her mother sent her to school so she had one less to watch all day at home. We would tell (Anne) she was a troublemaker and that was why she was sent to school so young.”
Son, Tom, said that his mom tackled doing more things for herself after his dad, Gerald, died in 1989. “She gradually grew in her independence, including driving ‘the old yella fella,’ as she called her big old sedan. She tooled around to church, her grandson’s baseball tournaments, the store, work — nothing stopped her. She had a lot more living to do, and she did.”
Grace Mozena, another daughter, said Anne’s creativity was enjoyed outside the kitchen as well. “Mom’s creative or artistic efforts were usually seen in the pillowcases that she embroidered or the flowers that she cultivated. She was not one to do crafts until she moved at age 97 to River Bend Retirement Community and began to participate in the craft activities. She learned the magic of glitter glue and the power of googly eyes and was able to use these new skills as she completed craft projects with her great-grandchildren. I think that qualifies as lifelong learning.”