Cover photo for Mary English's Obituary
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1932 Mary 2024

Mary English

April 28, 1932 — May 23, 2024


Mary A. English, 92, of Portsmouth, Rhode Island, entered eternal life on May 23, 2024. Born in St. Louis, MO, on April 28, 1932, Mary was the daughter of the late Joseph and Edith (Smith) Bello.


 Mary graduated from Saint Mark’s High School in St. Louis, MO, and promptly enlisted in the US Army, where she trained as a scrub nurse. She met US Air Force officer Robert English, and they married in San Antonio, Texas, in 1951.

 Mary traveled the world while raising her family, living in Ulm, Germany, and the Philippines before settling in Portsmouth, Rhode Island, in 1973.

 Mary worked as a Dental Office receptionist in Newport for 10 years. In 1984, she started her career as the night manager at the US Naval Officers Club in Newport, RI, until her retirement in 1997. As a manager, Mary was known for her tireless work ethic and dedication to customer service, ensuring all functions ran smoothly and up to the standards of the United States Navy. She was incredibly proud of ensuring the officer's club was decorated for holidays – putting in many extra hours in her efforts.  She was loved and respected by her staff and commanding officers. She was like a mother figure to many of the kitchen and wait staff, respecting and praising them for their hard work – and always holding them accountable.


 In 1997, Mary made the transition from night manager to full-time Nana. She helped raise her grandchildren, filling their hearts with love and joy. Mary became a permanent fixture in the lives of her grandchildren and their cousins, attending school functions, sporting events, graduations, and birthdays. Her time as Nana was enveloped in family, enriching her life, and providing a deep sense of belonging and purpose, which she treasured in her later years


 Mary was proud of her home on Mount Hope Bay, inviting family and friends to enjoy the beautiful views and gentle summer breezes – "What good is this home if you can't share it with family and friends?" she would say.

 Mary loved to learn—learning was a life-long endeavor. She was honest and blunt and never shied away from sharing her opinions on politics, culture, and art. She was well-read and enjoyed her Sunday New York Times from front to back—and relished discussing the articles and events covered by the paper.


 She was proud of all her children and grandchildren and their accomplishments. We will remember her warmly for her various catchphrases and "Nanaisms" such as "Whoa, Pal," "That's a lot of Chicken," and "True story time."

 Mary is survived by her children, Michelle Johnson of Wyoming, RI, Michael English of Portsmouth, and Meg M. English-Reilly and her husband Geoffrey of Warren, RI, and; five grandchildren, Benjamin Johnson, Elijah English, Brooks Rich, Jacob Reilly, and Liam Reilly; and two great-grandchildren, Banner, and Amelia Rich


 Mary is preceded in death by her siblings, Caralee Iovine and Joseph Bello.


 The family will schedule a funeral service in the future.

 Mary was a three-time breast cancer survivor. Memorial donations can be made to St. Jude's Children's Hospital, an organization that was special to Mary for many years.



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