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From 1981 to 2006, Sharon Mahoney lovingly looked after her “boys” as secretary for the Wilmette Fire Department.
“They really were like her second family,” said Patrick Mahoney, her husband of 50 years. “They treated her with respect and she respected them. She loved them. She called them ‘my boys,’ and they returned the love.”
Sharon Mahoney, who was born and lived most or her life in Wilmette, died Aug. 12, at age 80.
Retired ladder truck driver Dick May was among the dozens of present and former local firefighters who paid their last respects during funeral proceedings.
“Everybody in the department loved her,” May said. “The retired guys would get together and she’d come to our luncheons. ‘Ma Mahoney.’ That’s what we called her. She was an awesome lady.”
Mahoney graduated from New Trier High School and attended William Woods University. She met her husband, Patrick, at the Candlelite tavern on Western Avenue in Chicago, where they enjoyed hanging out together.
“She was just a special person,” he said.
Raising three children, creating a loving family environment, throwing a good party, and generating joy all around came naturally to Mahoney.
“She always had a smile and made everyone feel at home and welcome,” said her daughter, Kathleen Pancini. “She was just fun, she got along with everyone and she had a special gift of being able to make people smile.”
“Whenever I saw my grandma she always had a huge smile on her face and she always knew how to make anyone in the room smile back at her. She was the best grandma anyone could ever have,” said granddaughter, Kaitlyn Pancini.
Rev. Patrick Render, pastor of St. Viator and a friend for 50 years, also recalled Sharon’s “wonderful, gracious, loving smile and all that represented about her person.” Her faith, he said, was “manifested in genuinely loving, kind, compassionate caring ways with her family and friends.”
Holiday celebrations, family dinners, and “making everything perfect” were of great importance to Sharon, said Patrick.
“She wanted people to be happy and comfortable and she did everything she could to make that happen,” Patrick Mahoney said.
Sharon Mahoney, a parishioner at St. Joseph, loved to cook. Her chop suey, pepper steak, and tuna fish were family favorites. So were her mac and cheese and cheesy potatoes.
“Anything that involved cheese really,” said granddaughter, Mollie Mahoney.
“She also liked to go into the firehouse and mess with their cooking,” added Patrick.
Respect for tradition and doing the right thing were moorings in her life, and informed lessons she imparted to her children, said Patrick.
“She was big on the importance of being fair, the importance of family and of being nice to others,” Patrick Mahoney said. “She would say, ‘you’re going to get back what you put out.’”
Sharon Mahoney is survived by her husband, Patrick Mahoney; children Michael (Clare) Mahoney, Kathleen (Mark) Pancini and Patrick (Joan) Mahoney; and grandchildren Carley, Molly and Kevin Mahoney, Maggie, Kaitlyn and John Pancini, and Patrick and Natalie Mahoney.