November 21, 1939 - May 7, 2016
Friends are welcome to visit today, Tuesday May 10 from 4:00 to 7:00pm at Dorsey Funeral Home in Ossining. Funeral Mass will be at 10:00am at the Church of Saint Ann in Ossining with private family interment to follow.
Weslee Ann McGovern is survived by Eugene, her husband of 51 years, as well as her three sons Eugene (Sarah), Christopher (Cesarina) and Andrew (Jean); three siblings, Sheila Winnowski (Ted), John Neary, and Elizabeth (Betty) Bourgeois (Mark); two granddaughters, Grisel (Cordero) Rosario (Ediberto) and Jessica; six grandsons, Christopher, Peter, Thomas, Timothy, Joseph and Jack; great-grandson William Rosario; and 19 nieces and nephews. Wes will be dearly missed by her family, colleagues, students, and devoted friends on 4 continents who were touched by her renowned gift for true friendship.
She was 76.
Weslee Ann Neary was born on November 21, 1939 to Wesley and Angeline (Gallo) Neary in Troy, New York. After attending parochial school and graduating from Troy Catholic High School in 1957, she went on to Niagara University to study nursing, following her mother into the profession that was deeply rewarding for each of them. At Niagara she immediately established what proved to be lifelong friendships with other nursing students, particularly Jane (Castle) Church who unstintingly oversaw (and provided much of) the care that Wes received at the end of her life nearly 60 years later. At Niagara Wes also met Gene McGovern, a mathematics major from Rockville Centre on Long Island. They graduated in 1961, and were married on August 22, 1964. Gene and Wes shared a steadfast and genuinely humble Catholic faith, which in Wes' case was instilled by the example of the father for whom she was named, a man who is remembered as one who was never heard to utter an unkind word. After marrying the couple resided first in White Plains before moving in 1967 to Ossining, where they raised their sons and never left.
After acquiring her M.A. in Psychiatric Nursing from NYU Wes joined the faculty at Lehman College of the City University of New York in the Bronx. The nursing department at Lehman was in the process of being restructured under the guidance of its Chairperson Beatrice Goodwin, who became another of Wes's many friends who were with her to the end. While raising her sons and teaching at Lehman she was the sort of wife and mother who cooked dinner every night while unfailingly managing the smallest details of her many responsibilities. To these she added volunteer work at the Ossining Open Door clinic when her boys were big enough, and thereafter she was rarely without a volunteer role or project of some sort. Wes was also skilled at knitting and crocheting which she often did while watching the Yankees on television. During a sabbatical from Lehman she took courses in Chinese cooking and naturally became highly competent at it, yet another way that she could share her unquenchable enthusiasm for life.
A two-week trip to Oxford, England with Gene in 1974 was the first leg in a lifetime itinerary that took in some 30 countries with an assorted collection of friends as traveling companions. After Gene retired from the insurance industry, and Wes from Lehman after a teaching career of 28 years, they embarked on the adventure of a lifetime by relocating to Cairo, Egypt. While Gene taught Actuarial Science at Cairo University, Wes became thoroughly involved in the Women's Association and also served on a committee visiting maternity hospitals in Cairo. They were in Cairo when the events of September 2001 occurred, and were undeterred in their desire to explore and appreciate the Arab Muslim world. After 7 years in Cairo they returned to Ossining, but Wes visited Cairo annually to reconnect with the many friends she had made there. Her journey in 2011 had only gotten as far as Damascus, Syria before the events of the Arab Spring in Cairo prevented her from getting there that year. When she could not be in Egypt Wes contented herself by volunteering with the NGO Health Committee, an all-volunteer organization in New York that provides consultative services to the United Nations. She was also active in the American Muslim Women's Association, the Chairperson of which, Mahjabeen Hassan, MD, comforted Wes often in her final illness.
Wes was in Cairo this past February when she began to recognize symptoms of her illness. She sought medical treatment promptly upon returning to the States, and soon had a devastating diagnosis of lung cancer. In a shockingly brief time Wes's loved ones found themselves called upon to reciprocate the love and commitment Wes had shown them by comforting her in home hospice care. We are abundantly grateful that she was spared much of the suffering that we had dreaded, and we are grateful for the time we had with Wes. She passed away peacefully at home on May 7, 2016 with her husband Gene and family at her side. In lieu of flowers Wes and family wish that donations be made to Maryknoll Sisters (maryknollsisters.org). Friends are welcome to visit today, Tuesday May 10 from 4:00 to 7:00pm at Dorsey Funeral Home in Ossining. Funeral Mass will be at 10:00am at the Church of Saint Ann in Ossining with private family interment to follow.