Featured Story

Shelter Island Reporter obituary: Mary Ita Dwyer

Mary Ita Dwyer, retired East Williston School District teacher and leader of the North Hempstead Democratic Party in the 1980s, passed away on her beloved Shelter Island on October 19, 2022.

Mary was born in Manhattan, the child of Irish immigrants. That spirit and tenacity for searching for a new world was passed on to her.

After graduation from St. Joseph’s College in 1955, she started her teaching career, teaching special education students in Greenlawn. After having her six children, Mary began teaching at the North Side School in the East Williston School District.

She strove to enrich the creative minds of students, letting them learn at their own pace, and encouraging the love and passion for reading and creative writing for all students.

She was also the vice president of the teacher’s union, where she fought for the rights of young teachers entering the profession, securing them the rights and salaries needed to start their careers.

After working closely with Democratic candidates for 30 years, Mary was made Democratic Party leader in North Hempstead in the 1980s.

She was a community leader who always believed in grassroots politics. In 1986, Mary used those skills to run her husband’s campaign for District Court Judge and broke through a 75-year barrier of Republican rule on the bench.

Mary retired from teaching in 2000. But retirement did not stop her. She became a world traveler, visiting China, Egypt, Italy, Vietnam, Japan, Switzerland and her parent’s birth place, Ireland.

She moved to Shelter Island in 2001 and found the home and place she cherished every day for the rest of her life.

Mary went right to work organizing and strengthening the Democratic Party on Shelter Island. Her next endeavor was the crowning achievement of her education philosophies — creating a space for children to explore creative writing outside the classroom.

Working with an enthusiastic group of retirees on Shelter Island, she launched a writing program — 2 Rs 4 Fun. This program paired 3rd and 4th graders with senior mentors, working together one-on-one to enrich the children’s literacy. The program promoted the development of originality of thought and expression in children’s writing and encouraged them to think of themselves as “authors and writers.”

Mary’s husband, the Honorable Thomas W. Dwyer, passed away in 2000. They were married for 42 years and she is survived by six children and 13 grandchildren.

Former North Hempstead Town Councilman Tom Dwyer said, ”My mom would walk in the room and suddenly the room would be a little brighter.

Something she learned from her dad was the gift of gab. And Mom would never shy away from a political discussion, quite often leaning left … O.K., maybe always leaning left. Mom loved life and leaves a legacy of family values and traditions that will pass on to generations of Dwyers.”

There will be a wake at Weigand Funeral Home, 49 Hillside Avenue Williston Park, on Sunday, October 23, 2022 from 2 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. The Funeral will be at St. Aidans, 505 Willis Avenue, Williston Park on Monday, October 24, 2022 at 10 a.m.

There will be celebration of Mary ‘s life on Shelter Island on Saturday, Oct. 29, at 9 Crescent Way, Shelter Island Heights, from 1 to 4 p.m.