Local Obits

Obituary of Mary J. Richards


Mary J. “Marissa” Richards, 80, of Ithaca, NY, passed away peacefully on December 21, 2023, at Crown Park Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Cortland, NY.


While known to some as Mary, later in life she preferred to be called Marissa. She was born in Toledo, Ohio to John and Elizabeth Kornmeier. Marissa’s passion for art was apparent to her parents at an early age, and with their encouragement it was further fostered by the many hours she spent at the Toledo Art Museum during her youth.

Marissa briefly attended Bowling Green University, she then went on to earn a Bachelor of Science in Art Education from Kutztown University, and later she achieved a Master of Professional Studies in Communication from Cornell University.

She was an avid artist, gardener, and writer. Even while contending with some physical limitations, she pursued and balanced the simultaneous cultivation of multiple gardens at various locations for many years. She enthusiastically devoted countless hours to planning the layout of garden plots, nurturing her seedlings, tending to her plants and “playing in the dirt”. At other times her energies were joyfully spent exploring, appreciating, and creating art in a variety of mediums and helping others to do the same. Marissa loved to write, whether it be in a journal, as a culmination of her research, while creating marketing materials, or composing short stories. Some of her other creative adventures included ongoing culinary experimentation and inventing new recipes, sewing, participation in theater productions, photography, and video production. She also spent many years continually building her knowledge of plants and herbs, alternative medicine, and astrology. That she died on the day of the winter solstice holds its own special significance based on her views related to astrology.

Throughout her life, Marissa’s work was vast and varied – some highlights include teaching and research at Cornell University, many years spent teaching Visual Communications at Tompkins-Seneca-Tioga BOCES and running her design and communications consulting business. She was very involved in the community and gave both her time and knowledge to numerous projects and committees in support of art, music, theater, organic gardening and farming, sustainability, expansion of local tourism and business development.

As a teacher and mentor to many, Marissa’s legacy will live on in all the people whose lives she impacted.

Marissa is survived by her daughter Lisa (Charlie) Pozo, her brothers Jack, Ed (Nora) and Jim (Judy) Kornmeier, and her many nieces, nephews, grandnieces, and grandnephews. She was preceded in death by her parents and her brother Mike (Pat) Kornmeier.

No funeral services are scheduled; a private celebration of Marissa’s life will be held at a later date.

In honor of Marissa’s love of animals, memorial donations may be made to:

SPCA of Tompkins County, 1640 Hanshaw Rd, Ithaca, NY 14850 ( www.spcaonline.com )

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