Mary Ann Eckert, 74, of Thornton, PA, passed away peacefully on Oct. 22, 2022, surrounded by family, after bravely battling Alzheimer’s disease.
Born on March 6, 1948 in West Pittston, PA, she was the daughter of John and Mary Evans, and sister of John Evans Jr. Mary Ann was the beloved wife of Donald Peter Eckert, loving mother of daughters Christine Thomas and her husband Christopher Thomas of Chatham, NJ and Andrea Clemens and her husband Bradford Clemens of Souderton, PA. She was an adoring ‘Gigi’ to her grandchildren Nolan and Wyatt Clemens, Addison and William Thomas. Mary Ann was an exceptional mother and partner, talented counselor and adventurist. Mary Ann packed more amazing memories into 74 years than most would in 100.
Mary Ann grew up in the small town of West Pittston, PA where her father, an Army Veteran, ran the local YMCA while reconstructing homes and apartments and her mother was an accomplished nurse. Mary Ann was a strong student; she was social, athletic and headed her high school’s cheerleading squad. Mary Ann graduated with honors and received a scholarship to study psychology at Muhlenberg College.
During the winter of freshman year, Mary Ann was set up on a beautiful blind date with Don Eckert from Lehigh University and fraternity brother in Theta Xi. Don was smart, cleaned up quite nicely, and had a one of a kind sense of humor. Mary Ann and Don had a blast together for the next four years and she was named ‘sweetheart’ of Theta Xi as well as a Co-Captain of the Majorette’s at Muhlenberg.
Mary Ann graduated in 1970, choosing a prestigious role at Philadelphia State Hospital, Byberry, as the Psychologist for the criminally insane while Don was an Officer at McGuire Air-Force Base. The two eventually married at the McGuire Chapel and took off on a month long honeymoon exploring Europe. This ‘kick started’ their life-long love of world travel and adventure.
Prior to starting Graduate School at University of Florida, the happy couple took a year-long camping trip exploring the US, Canada and Mexico. Mary Ann then obtained a Master's and Specialist Degree in school counseling in 1976. A few years after starting as an elementary school counselor in Avon Grove School District, Christine and Andrea were born. Mary Ann leveraged her exceptional education in child development to raise her daughters. She leaned in hard to every problem to help teach her daughters how to reach their maximum potential. Mary Ann had an unending drive for her family. She led the family through building 3 houses and each one undoubtedly ended up feeling like home.
Once her daughters were well into school, Mary Ann returned to work and eventually became the Head Counselor for West Chester Henderson High school, the Head Counselor for West Chester Area School District and subsequently structured the first counseling program at Rustin High School before retirement. Mary Ann was dedicated to her students. She had passion, empathy and exceptional skills to make a difference.
Those close to Mary Ann knew that she was a bit of a medical enigma. She fought many challenging and unusual health issues over the years. She was a breast cancer survivor and also fought Graves Disease, Gastroparesis, Subclavian Steal Syndrome, and three Pulmonary Embolisms before COVID and finally Late Stage Alzheimer’s Disease. When diagnosed, Mary Ann researched each disease, sought input from experts and went after each illness aggressively and holistically - to fight for her life and for her family.
Don and Mary Ann spent their last 13 years post-retirement having fun with friends and family while also enjoying their home, their daily life, and exploring the world. Together they took 61 travel adventures across 6 continents to some of the most unusual, exotic, beautiful locations possible.
To her daughters, Mary Ann leaves behind her sense of humor, empathy, strong will and determination. To her husband she leaves her love, gratitude and their two accomplished children who love him more than words can describe. Don did everything he could for Mary Ann, both at home and for the last year at Arden Courts, King of Prussia. Although Mary Ann is no longer with us physically, her passion and love will continue to fill our hearts every day.
Relatives and friends are invited to her Visitation 1pm Thursday, November 3, 2022 at The Donohue Funeral Home, 1627 West Chester Pike, West Chester, PA 19382, followed by her Memorial Service at 2 pm. Interment is private.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Alzheimer’s Association, 399 Market Street, Suite 250, Philadelphia, PA 19106, or at https://www.alz.org.