Local Obits

Obituary of Mary Jude Papalia Clarke


Mrs. Mary Jude Papalia Clarke was born on April 18th, 1959, to Dr. Anthony Papalia, and Ruth Wickersham Papalia in Altoona, PA. For the past 11 years she has been living with her beloved husband Milo (‘Mi’) Clarke in St. Augustine, FL. After Tony lost his wife Ruth in 2019, he was happy to move to Florida and live with Mi and his oldest daughter Mary J.

On Saturday, May 25, 2024, Mary J. passed away at the UF Health (Flagler Hospital) in St. Augustine. She is survived by her husband Mi, father Anthony, sisters Jean, Anne and Martha. Her daughter Naomi lives in the New York City area. She is predeceased by her mother Ruth W. Papalia; by her first husband Ralph C. DeHart, and her son Andrew C. DeHart. Mary was deeply engaged with her nieces (favorite aunt status) Samantha, Jessica, Willa, Zoe and Ava—always on time with birthday surprises and brimming Easter baskets. Then she married into a big family, and earned herself some nephews, and some more nieces. Tre`, Robin, Ryan Ann, Sarah, Lisa, Martha Anne, Philip, Cortland, and Richard James.

Mary graduated from the University of the State of New York in 1982, with a degree in Biology and moved to the Allentown area where she worked at Allentown Sacred Heart Hospital. She later took her experience to the University of Wisconsin Hospital where she worked as a floating unit clerk. She continued in the field working for CVS and Walgreens when she moved to Florida.

Mary’s route to Florida came via Facebook when in 2012 she created an account which caught the eye of her old high school friend Mi Clarke. While Mary was in Wisconsin and Mi was in Florida a romance built on friendship and warmth blossomed. They married in 2012 and started a life in Florida together proving the best love can sometimes happen after a wait. They enjoyed many trips together, to Japan, Hawaii, Italy, France, Spain, Monaco, Mexico, Belize, Grand Caymans, Bahamas, Alaska, around the British Isles and Norway. And when not international, Mary and Mi were wandering car travelers taking extended trips through many states and sending zany and endearing postcards to family and friends. She had a knack for organizing trips with a fun stop every day.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Friday June 21, 2024 at 12 noon in St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church. The Christian Rite of committal and burial will follow in St. Mary’s Catholic Cemetery.
The family will receive friends from 9:30 a.m.-11:30 a.m. in the Chapel of Riccardi Funeral Home, Cortland, N.Y. prior to mass In lieu of flowers, since Mary J. was allergic, please send any donations to Catholic Charities 45 Crandall St. Cortland. That would please Mary J. very much, since her Catholic soul was as big as the whole out doors.

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