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Mary McGuire Henebry 1919-2005, Generous Misericordia volunteer
When Mary McGuire Henebry was a teenager in the 1930s, the benefit balls for Misericordia Heart of Mercy were the social events of the year. But as she grew up, Mrs. Henebry came to see the institution her mother helped found in a different light.
Mrs. Henebry, Liz to family and friends, fell in love with the institution and worked countless hours spreading the word about Misericordia. She contributed and encouraged others to give.
"She was a beautiful, gentle woman who really did believe that our children and adults deserve the best," said Sister Rosemary, director of Misericordia. "We just feel like we've lost a beautiful friend, and we will never forget her kindness and generosity to Misericordia."
Mrs. Henebry, 86, died Saturday, Nov. 5, at her Wilmette home after a six-year battle with cancer.
Mrs. Henebry's mother, Frances Elizabeth McCormick, helped open Misericordia in 1921 as a home for unwed mothers, and her father, Dr. Walter McGuire, was a successful physician who delivered babies there. Later, the institution opened its doors to mentally and physically disabled children, eventually adopting that as its primary focus.
Mrs. Henebry's life was forever altered at 13 when her mother died in 1933, leaving her as the female head of the family.
"Liz began slowly but surely taking over the reins of being a mother," said her sister, Dodie Dwyer.
She eventually took over where her mother left off, joining the auxiliary and then women's boards. She would do any task, as small as volunteering in the gift shop, to help Misericordia.
"The core of her drive to be in support of Misericordia was the fact that her mother was a founding member of the Misericordia home," said her son-in-law Patrick Callahan. "This is a way of carrying forward her mother's life."
Before she became ill, Mrs. Henebry would volunteer at least once a week at Misericordia, Sister Rosemary said.
Mrs. Henebry also had a deeper connection with the institution; her niece, Mary, Dodie's daughter, was born with Down syndrome, and lived at Misericordia until her death before age 2.
Sister Rosemary was particularly touched by Mrs. Henebry's joy when a grandson made a generous contribution to the home.
"You would think that it was going to Liz herself," she said. "Her excitement of that really impressed me. She was so excited to think that a grandson would believe in Misericordia the way she believed in it."
November 09, 2005|By Lisa Fleisher, Tribune staff reporter