Mary Ellen Hegarty

Mary Ellen Hegarty, who split her time between Glen Head and Montauk, died on Easter morning at home in Glen Head. She was 75 and had had cancer for over eight years.

She had lost sensation in her hands and feet a year and a half ago and began using a wheelchair or needing help to walk, but her spirits never dampened, her family said. At Christmas, they said, nothing, not even cancer, could keep her from shopping, and she managed to purchase a plethora of gifts for her 10 grandchildren. 

Mrs. Hegarty and her husband, Michael J. Hegarty, bought a Leisurama home in Montauk in the early 1970s after falling love with Montauk while visiting friends. Their home in Montauk was filled with family, friends, and parties, from Christmas in July to Halloween in August, complete with trick-or-treating from bedroom to bedroom, her family said. The family had also re-enacted Hurricane Bob by shutting off the power and cooking the same meal they had eaten back in 1991.

Their grandchildren, all of whom survive, were the center of many of the couple’s activities, and a sign at their North Farragut Road house in Montauk read, “Careful, Grandparents at Play.” When Mrs. Hegarty lost her hair as a result of chemotherapy, the grandchildren proved their affection for her by hosting a Crazy Hat Party.

Born Mary Ellen Duggan on Dec. 6, 1939, to Helen and James Duggan, Mrs. Hegarty was raised in the Bronx. She graduated from Blessed Sacrament Academy.

Her husband was a student at Manhattan College when they met, her daughter, Ellen McDonald of East Hampton, said. Mr. Hegarty and his fraternity brothers used to joke by saying they were going to a dance with Mary Duggan as a code for going stag. At one particular dance, Mr. Hegarty met Mary Duggan, introduced her to his friends, and the rest is history. They were married on Jan. 26, 1963.

Mrs. Hegarty is survived by her husband of 52 years and her children, Michael Hegarty of Westbury, Brian Hegarty of Golden’s Bridge in Westchester, N.Y., and Ms. McDonald.

A wake was held earlier this month at the Whitting Funeral Home in Glen Head, followed by a funeral Mass at St. Hyacinth Catholic Church in Glen Head. She was buried at the Locust Valley Cemetery.

Memorial donations have been suggested to Recanati/Miller Kidney Transplantation Institute at Mount Sinai Hospital, One Gustave L. Levy Place, Box 1049, New York 10029, or online.