Mary Arlene Askew's Obituary
Mary A. Askew, age 86, transitioned from labor to reward on July 8, 2020.
Mary was born Mary Arlene Greene on February 7, 1934 in Star, NC, to her parents, the late Lee and
Donna Greene. Sadly, her mother Donna passed away when Mary was just 6-weeks old. Mary
graduated from Peabody High School in Troy, NC. The youngest of seven children, Mary moved to
New York in 1958 after the death of her father whom she cared for during his illness. She went on to
graduate from Bronx Community College Nursing School with a degree in Nursing. Mary worked
nursing positions at St. Barnabas Hospital, Beth Abraham Hospital, among others. She also often
worked as a private duty nurse. She married Robert Askew and later Louis Mitchell, both preceding
her in death. After retiring from nursing in 1996, Mary continued to give of herself by nursing friends
and family in need. This included her sister Edith and brother Boyd. She was devoted to her family;
always making herself available whenever there was a need.
Mary loved to travel and see the world. One of her favorite modes of transportation was a cruise ship.
She had a big heart and never hesitated to share it. If ever a family member or friend moved to New
York she would show them how to get around and helped get them started with a job and place to
stay. She was active in her community and church throughout her life. Mary was a member of
Community Protestant Church, Bronx, NY. She served in ministries such as Hospitality, Greeter,
Choir, and Usher. She was also a member of their North Carolina Club. However, her favorite
ministry was serving grieving families. In addition to her church activities she was a dedicated and
faithful member of The Eastern Stars, The Graceful Ladies of Coop City Red Hat Society, Coop City
Retirees of Dreiser Loop, American Legion Auxiliary #1871, and local AARP Peachtree Chapter
#4997. She even traveled to the capital to advocate for the rights of seniors.
Mary is survived by her daughters Earlene Thomas, of Burlington, NC and Barbara Russ and
husband Vincent, of Willingboro, NJ; her grandchildren Rochele Thomas of Grovetown, GA, LeShawn
Thomas of Burlington, NC, Jamal Russ and wife Samantha of Slatington, PA, Malcolm Russ of
Delran NJ, Kenya Russ and husband Kenneth of Willingboro, NJ, Imani Russ of Maple Shade, NJ; 11
great-grandchildren and countless nieces, nephews, family and friends. She is preceded in death by
her siblings Edith, Ernest, Ralph, Boyd, Naomi, and Carl; and one granddaughter Nichole Thomas.
A virtual memorial service is scheduled for 10 am, Saturday July 25, 2020. All are welcome to attend
and celebrate Mary’s life by clicking the Zoom link on the tribute page at
. The family would like to thank everyone for their prayers and
words of comfort. Cards and condolences can be sent to Barbara Russ, 192 Pennypacker Dr.,
Willingboro, NJ 08046, or Earlene Thomas at 3111 Forestdale Dr., Burlington, NC 27215.
Mary Askew - Biography
AS TOLD BY FAMILY AND FRIENDS
I'm Free - Unknown
Don't grieve for me, for now I'm free,
I'm following the path God laid for me.
I took his hand when I heard his call,
I turned my back and left it all.
I could not stay another day,
To laugh, to love, to work, to play.
Tasks left undone must stay that way,
I've found that peace at close of day.
If my parting has left a void,
Then fill it with remembered joy.
A friendship shared, a laugh, a kiss,
Ah yes, these things I too will miss.
Be not burdened with times of sorrow,
I wish you the sunshine of tomorrow.
My Life's been full, I savored much,
Good friends, good times, a loved one's touch,
Perhaps my time seemed all too brief,
Don't lengthen it now with undue grief.
Lift up your heart and share with me,
God wanted me now, He set me free.
An original poem from
Submitted on behalf of Naomi Greene LeGrand
(Sunrise: 1/4/1923 – Sunset 1/3/2015)
Sisters make the bad times good and the good times unforgettable.
While we got dressed for our brother Boyd’s Home-going service, YOU laid out your finest attire.
Your shoes, stockings, dress and HAT.
I remember thinking “I LIKE THAT!”
I picked up your HAT to try it on for size,
It fit ME so well, there was NO compromise.
YOU looked at me with a little dismay,
But didn’t have the HEART to take it away!
I wore YOUR hat and wore it well,
With LOVE in my heart, EVERYONE could tell!
Always giving and helping through the good and the bad,
YOU were the best friend I ever had!
Whether side by side or miles apart,
We were sisters connected by the heart.
Our paths changed as life went along,
But our bond as sisters remained ever strong.
I got MY wings! Now you have YOURS.
And the REST of OUR FAMILY got THEIRS, of course!
When YOU came through those pearly gates,
WE ALL WERE THERE TO CELEBRATE!
No more grief, no more pain.
Now look at US, ALL TOGETHER AGAIN!
On behalf of her Brother
When Mary’s brother Boyd Greene became ill she did what many thought was impossible. She went to
North Carolina and brought him to New York to live. Her brother had been in the small town of Star,
North Carolina, population 848, all his life. He rarely travelled out of the state and had no intention to
ever fly on an airplane. The fact that he got on that plane without a word of complaint was a real
testament to how much he trusted his baby sister. Once arriving in New York, Mary placed Boyd in an
Assisted Living facility two blocks from her home. For the last years of his life Mary showered her
brother with all loving care and devotion, he had always given her throughout her life. She would bring
him home to spend the night. She would cook his favorite meal and they would walk together. Many
times they would ride the bus downtown and go out to eat. She said Boyd would look out the window
amazed at the moving crowds and say “Just look at the people.” Sometimes she would eat with him and
his friends and teased him when it appeared one of the residents was determined to be his girlfriend.
Mary did his laundry herself. If she was going to be away she tipped a staff member to watch out for
him. She made sure he was always clean and well cared for. Once he passed she laid her Brother Boyd’s
body to rest back in North Carolina close to family and friends.
From her Nephew
About my Aunt Mary:
The last time I saw her she was in a nursing home. I felt like they had her so medicated she did not know she was there.
The first time was most likely at a family reunion, in a place called star. I remember her smile, her laugh, her wisdom,
and her concern for others. I remember how freehearted and giving she was. I remember how she made me feel special
when she prepared meals for us when we would visit her in New York. I remember her giving me money at a time when
I really needed it, even though I did not ask for it. When she knew things, she just did what she could to help.
I wonder how many people she helped as a nurse. I met some of the people she knew and helped.
She was just being a good friend and neighbor to them.
Caring for people is in her blood, that is just the way she is, yes is, because if I say was, then that would mean or imply
that I don’t really believe the words of the God I serve. His word says, “I knew you before I formed you in
your mother’s womb”. Therefore she existed before she was born. We got to know her after that. So, I believe that the
family she was born into as the youngest child of that family is intact at a family reunion in heaven.
“John 3:16” “Psalm 23” and many other verses apply. Can you believe that they are just
“words”? So, later Aunt Mary, we will see you later.
From a Friend
She helped me when my Mother was in the hospital and my brother, who is a disabled veteran was
home alone. I was running back and forth between my home and the hospital for my mother and the
apartment to care for my brother; twice a day. Mary told me, “You are not Superwoman.” She said she
would make sure my brother ate and got his medication either in the morning or the evening. She said
it was my choice; but I was NOT to come and go twice a day anymore. And that is exactly what she did;
each day until things got better. She was such a sweetheart. When my mother stopped going to church
Mary would pick up her tithes and offering and take it for her. She checked on my mother and brother
regularly without being asked. She had a key to my mother’s house. That’s how much we trusted her.
Another time my mother called me at 2 am…
From a Friend
We met on a bus and became fast friends. When I would leave the city, she would take care of my
house and move my car around the garage so no one would know I was gone and try to break into my
apartment. She was my friend. I loved her so much. I called her my big sister and she called me her
brother. She had a key to my apartment and my car. We depended on each other and we both loved to
help others. The word ‘no’ was not in our vocabulary. I drove to New Jersey to see her. When she saw
me, she hugged me and said my name and a tear slid down her face. I miss her so much!
From a Friend
First of all, she was very thoughtful, very considerate, very kind. I will never forget when she was going
to Texas. I had moved from New York to Alabama. She wanted to come by and see how I was doing, so
she added a stop by my house to her trip. I was so thrilled I had my entire family over to meet her.
When I first left New York, I left my key with her and she took care of my apartment. Once, I came up to
New York to visit my grandchildren. I was staying at their house. Well I came down with the worst cold
in the world. Both my grandchildren are asthmatic. There was no way I could remain there with them.
Mary had me come and stay with her. I tell you, by the time she finished nursing me for three days I was
able to go to the Bronx Zoo with my family. Three days and I am walking around the zoo! When she
retired from nursing strangers; she nursed her friends.
From a Friend
What made Mary a good friend was that she was there for everyone. She would change her own plans
to be there for a friend. One example is when I went in for cancer surgery. I was laying on the gurney
and I noticed Mary was at the hospital too. I asked her why she was at the hospital and she said just to
see a friend. Later on it turned out she had come to sit with my husband and my daughter because she
thought they might need some comfort while they waited. When I came home from the hospital, she
met me downstairs. She helped them get me upstairs and she helped me get in bed. She was the one
who came over. She helped me shower. When I had a visiting nurse, she brought herself over there to
interview that nurse! Mary wanted to make sure that nurse was going to be doing the right things. It
just wasn’t me. She was always there for everyone. She was such a giving person. One of the things
she used to say was that she did not have money but she had the time. She would constantly use that
time to help others. If she couldn’t buy you groceries, she would cook you a meal from what she had.
She was genuine. If she did not like it, she would say so without being confrontational. You never
walked away from her wondering what she meant. She was upfront. She was there; and she put her
whole soul and body into making other people happy. She was a true, blue friend. She had keys to my
house. It is like a hole in my life, without her there.
From a Friend
I went to visit Mary and her daughter asked me to hold Mary’s hand while we were walking because
Mary could get wobbly. To this day I smile when I think about how Mary and I were fussing and laughing
about who was holding who up! I thank God for each day we were friends. She was a dear friend from
the very beginning. I never had a friend like that before. We always talked on the phone, even when I
moved back to North Carolina to take care of my mother. When I would come to New York I stayed with
her a few times. She had a sofa bed that was the worst sleeping bed. It was like being tortured! When I
complained she gave me her entire room. We traveled together. We cruised and we went on bus trips!
We had so much fun. You would think that with us being friends for thirty years that we would have had
regular arguments. The amazing thing is; Mary and I never, in thirty years, got angry with each other.
She was such a cheerful person. She always had a smile on her face. She was my dearest friend
From a Friend
What made Mary a great friend was her awesome caring, her awesome sharing; her awesome giving of
herself. She was a God faring woman who took care of everybody. If she called you friend and you were
sick or in need of help; it did not matter if you were still in New York or had moved away. Mary would
get there. She was going. She would get there if she had to walk.
An original poem from
Where will I meet someone like you?
A friend as loyal and true
A dear friend you have always been
I pray that this friendship will never end
I have seen many and liked a few
But non compared to you
You were immaculate in every way
And if it’s God’s will this way you will stay
Where will I meet another like you?
You put your heart in all that you do
I am so glad it is you I know
As time moves on no matter what I do
This is the way I’ll always remember you
No matter where I go, no matter when I’ve been
You will always be known as my dear friend
Please visit the Guest Book below and leave a Tribute to Mary.
We would love to hear your memories, see your pictures, and read your kind words.
Physical cards, condolences, or memories please send to:
3111 FORESTDALE DR. BURLINGTON
336-460-7569 (CALL OR TEXT)
192 PENNYPACKER DR.
WILLINGBORO, NJ 08046
The gallery below is a tribute to Mary Arlene Askew from her family and friends.
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