SOUTH PORTLAND — Mary L. Greenlaw, 85, of Falmouth, died Sept. 4 at home, surrounded by her entire family after a courageous, lifelong battle with cancer.
Greenlaw was born Feb. 11, 1928, in Portland, the daughter of Clifford and Mary Greely Libby Sawyer. She was lovingly adopted at an early age by the only father she’s ever known, Daniel Sawyer. Some of her fondest memories were of the ocean and predawn lobstering with her stepfather. She attended South Portland schools, graduating in 1947, later graduating from Gray’s Business School.
After supporting her family from the age of 11 in a variety of occupations, she was employed by First National Stores for more than 20 years, where she was considered the “nucleus of the office.” She was the confidant and sounding board for many executives.
She married Clare Ralph Greenlaw Sr., on Feb. 14, 1969, at Holy Cross Parish. They had an unwavering bond of love and understanding throughout their life together.
In 1973, Greenlaw moved from her childhood home in South Portland to Scarborough with her family. She eventually left Scarborough and joined her son’s family for the last eight years of her life.
She was a long-time communicant of Holy Cross, St. John’s and eventually Holy Martyr’s parishes. Her faith in God always remained central to her strength. She was a volunteer at Maine Medical Center and a proud member of the Irish American Club.
Greenlaw was a mentor and confidant to those in her life, beginning with the children in her neighborhood. She greeted her granddaughters Sarah and Libby with a homemade “sniki” every afternoon before moderating homework sessions.
Greenlaw consumed anything in print and prided herself on her knowledge of current events and the latest supermarket specials. She loved late night Italian sandwich runs and had an insatiable appetite for Chinese food with her son.
She was happiest taking long rides with her son and family, who learned that the words “just a short ride” meant a day-long agenda.
For over 30 years, she loved watching the seasons change at the family camp on Pequawket Lake in Limington. She enjoyed the serenity of the lake, the trees and nature and the simplicity of the outhouse.
Greenlaw left her family with a lifetime’s worth of rich holiday traditions to be carried forward. She expressed her love and care to her entire family throughout the year.
She was predeceased by her husband. She is survived by her son, Clare Ralph Greenlaw Jr. and his wife, Meredith; daughter Cheri McPhee and her husband, David; eight grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
A celebration of Greenlaw’s life and a Mass of Christian Burial were held Sept. 10, at Holy Cross Roman Catholic Church, South Portland. Interment followed at Calvary Cemetery, South Portland.