The world just lost a kind and gentle soul and is poorer for it. At home, and in the company of her family Mary Ellen (Lamenza) Carl lost her battle. She fought the good fight and ran the race to the end. Mary Ellen was born Mary Ellen Lamenza on March 13, 1938 in Beaver Falls, PA to Oscar Francis and Catherine (Pavkovich) Lamenza. Much to the surprise of her mother, Mary Ellen's twin sister, Patsy, was born immediately after. Mary Ellen, nicknamed "Patty" by her family, delighted in the company of her parent’s large Croatian and Italian extended family, particularly during Christmas, a holiday that would enthrall her entire life. Mary Ellen attended school in Ellwood City, PA. Her life-long love affair with books and literature began in first grade. At Lincoln High School, her "stately poise caught many an admiring eye." Along with studying dance, "M'ellen" was a member of the student council, French Club, Hostess Club, a Candystriper, worked in the library and was a fourteen-year member of the Girl Scouts. After graduation, Mary Ellen maintained enduring friendships with her classmates and was an enthusiastic attendee at Lincoln High Class of '56 reunions. After graduation, Mary Ellen briefly attended nurses training, but left after realizing her true calling, teaching. Mary Ellen worked alongside her beloved Aunt Eleanor in the billing department of B&W Steel’s Beaver Falls Works to save the money to attend Geneva College, a rigorous Convener institution, where she earned a BS in Education in 1961. After graduating, Mary Ellen was on a road trip to Canandaigua with her Aunt Eleanor and on a whim, she applied for a primary teaching position at a pleasant-looking school in Hamburg, NY. The principal hired her on the spot. Mary Ellen taught 1st grade at Clover Bank School for 7 years. On the first day of every school year, her young charges looked up at the 5'10" Miss Lamenza with the long dark hair and fell in love. Scrupulously prepared and endlessly energetic, Mary Ellen taught with care, creativity, and discipline. Her classrooms enjoyed participating in her original musicals, and consistently excelled above standards. Students and their parents reported back throughout her life to thank her for the wonderful start to their academic careers.
While at Clover Bank, Mary Ellen met her future husband, Louis Charles Carl. She took a chance and married him, despite his being her junior in education, accreditations, income, age, and probably intellect. She accompanied him to the San Diego area while he fulfilled his commitment to the Navy. In California, Mary Ellen made new friends, substitute taught on the Indian Nation, and gave birth to her son, Louis Oscar. They then moved from California to the frequently frozen Keweenaw Peninsula so that her husband could attend Michigan Tech. While in the Keweenaw, Mary Ellen continued substitute teaching, helping Louis to finish his education. After leaving Michigan, the couple gave birth to a daughter, Sarah, and in 1975 she settled for good in Horseheads, NY. Mary Ellen was a woman of many interests and passions. A consummate cook and skilled baker, Mary Ellen collected cookbooks, and recipes. Her husband still remembers coming home from class on snowy days and smelling freshly baked a bread. She sewed beautiful, intricate clothing, featuring flounces and lace. A lover of flowers, she maintained lovely gardens and a curated collection of indoor plants, potted annuals from seed, cultivated herbs, and collected garden sculptures. She was fond of having coffee in the little Japanese tea house in her back garden overlooking a tiny Koi pond built for her by her husband. Over the years, a series of frogs took up residence in the pond emerging to acknowledge her presence and pose for her camera. Mary Ellen collected flowers wherever she went, drying them to use for artistic ventures. She collected so many that boxes full still remain.
Mary Ellen's love for Christmas expanded over the years. While in high school, a short story that she wrote extolling the spirit of Christmas was published in the Ellwood City Ledger. Mary Ellen had a tradition of creating different decorative Christmas stars each year. She adorned some with dried flowers, and learned flower painting for others, one-year painting in an Eastern style, another year Russian. The Christmas decorations were given with love to her friends and relatives who treasure them all these years later. Mary Ellen devoted enormous energy to decorating her house inside and out for Christmas, and every year through 2019 her Christmas trees reached to the ceiling and glittered with handmade ornaments. Mary Ellen was always active and investigating, she trained regularly and continued to study dance, including belly, ballet, and tap. She worked out with her friends at Diamond Gym for 25 years. Her husband once offered buy her a Camaro if she could bench press half her body weight in the “Biggest Bench” competition (she narrowly missed her goal and bought herself a Mustang). Mary Ellen became a certified Pilates teacher in 2002, teaching at the Corning YMCA for several years. Most recently, she maintained her fitness by walking with her friends at the Arnot Mall.
Mary Ellen loved literature and writing, and she became an expert in poetry and children's books. In addition to all of these passions, Mary Ellen was a hospice volunteer, spending hours selecting music and readings for those she comforted. She later fulfilled her dream of visiting Italy, where a local guide proclaimed her a "Real Italian Woman." Her love for the Pittsburgh Steelers intensified in recent years, becoming a devoted fan. Mary Ellen was a communicant at St. Mary our Mother Church in Horseheads. Her intense interest in being a kind and loving person included reading from a vast canon of spiritual and philosophical topics. Mary Ellen is survived by her husband of 52 years, Louis C. Carl, son Louis Oscar, daughter-in-law Brauna (Rosenberg), grandsons L. Gabe & Hayden W., Carl of Springfield, VA, daughter Sarah Carl of Astoria, NY, sister Patricia & brother-in-law Clifford Lanzinger and nephews & niece of the Seattle, WA area. A special thanks to the staff of the Corning Hospital Cancer Center — their professionalism, compassion, and kindness was a constant comfort. Mary Ellen's life will be celebrated with a Funeral Mass at St. Mary Our Mother Church on February 28th 2020 at 10:00. Following the Mass, Mary Ellen will be laid to rest in Maple Grove Cemetery, in Horseheads, NY; a luncheon will follow. In lieu of flowers, please contribute to either: St. Mary Our Mother Church or the Horseheads Free Library, 405 South Main Street, Horseheads, NY, 14845 (you may specify a type of book to honor Mary Ellen, so really almost anything at all!).
Mary Ellen implores you to "Smile on the lonely people.”