On Oct. 23rd, 1936, Mom came into the world just minutes before Aunt Mimi, her twin and lifelong best friend. The first-borns of Albert and Anne Courtney, they eventually were fortunate to add two more sisters (Carolyn, 1938 and Terry, 1948) to their clan and grow up in a household of much love and lots of laughter. Albert enjoyed taking his 4 daughters out in their convertible, driving around the neighborhood with the music blaring. Although he was a quiet man, his love for his four daughters was fierce and they never doubted it.
The family lived in Astoria, Queens, in a neighborhood that felt very safe and where salesmen peddled their wares house to house; milk and bread was delivered to the front door and produce and rags were delivered via the alley out back. They attended P.S. 84, which is also called the Steinway School due to its proximity to the Steinway piano factory and family mansion, two landmarks that Mom often talked about. It was at P.S.84 that Mom met Sheila, her other best friend for life. “Aunt Sheila” was to become a welcome fixture in our lives, also.
In 1945, Albert and Anne bought a house that sat on 100+ acres in Windham, N.Y. It was a 4 hour drive from Astoria before the N.Y. Thruway was built and it had 11 rooms over 2 floors. While it lacked indoor plumbing, there was never a lack of fun. The girls fished, using sticks, safety pins and bread. They stole blackberries out of the neighbor’s yard. They milked another neighbor’s cow. And when they were 12 or 13, they got jobs working in separate boarding houses for the summer.
Mom and Mimi headed to St. Michael’s Catholic Academy For Girls when they entered high school. The cost was $10/month for two students and Mimi went on scholarship her last 3 years. The 3 older sisters volunteered for stage crew, laughing uncontrollably as they carried plywood from the lumber yard through Manhattan while still in their school uniforms. They played intramural sports and they decorated for the prom. They learned new musical instruments-Mom played the trumpet, Mimi the violin and Carolyn the clarinet. Mom had unfulfilled dreams of attending Juilliard as a trumpeter but became a skilled pianist and later, a popular piano teacher. The twins were incredibly smart but always humble. Mom graduated as salutatorian, Mim as valedictorian.
After graduating from St. Michael’s, Mom went to work and Mimi attended Fordham for a while, then went into teaching. Mom bought her first car, a green stick-shift DeSoto, from a friend of Sheila’s in the priesthood. Sheila realized her lifelong dream of becoming a nurse.
In 1957, the beloved Brooklyn Dodgers moved to Los Angeles, leaving a gaping wound in each of the sisters’ hearts. Fortunately, the hapless but lovable Mets arrived in 1962, giving Mom and Mimi their next shared passion. Often, the twins would dress identically when they attended Mets games, garnering lots of attention. The magical 1969 season ended with a World Series win with Mom in attendance, courtesy of tickets from Dad.
Mom and Dad met when they each attended a coworker’s wedding by themselves. At Chase National Bank, Mom practiced bookkeeping and sorted checks. Dad worked on the teletype machine while attending school at night. They had to keep their budding courtship a secret because of company policy and often met in a cemetery where no one could see them. Mom and Dad married in 1958 and Deborah was born in 1959 while Dad was out of town with the Reserves. Over the next 6 years, Karen, Noreen, Kevin and Edward would be born into our family, while Todd would join us after we moved to Connecticut.
Over the years, as Dad’s business struggled and recovered repeatedly, Mom kept the household running by working multiple jobs. Despite the hardships this imposed on her, she never lost her quick, quirky sense of humor and her sense of adventure. It was during this time that Mom arranged for a French exchange student, Valerie Galet, to temporarily join our household. Valerie remained in Mom's life even naming Mom godmother to one of her daughters.
Mom was the office manager at multiple Catholic Cemeteries for the Diocese of Bridgeport for many years. She was also a beloved piano teacher, who, at times was in higher demand than she could accommodate. Later in life, she also volunteered as an aide at a retirement community.
Mom was the proud grandmother of 11 and even prouder great grandmother of 5. She was especially proud of her unique title as "Gwee," a name given to her by her oldest grandson. Many in the community lovingly referred to her this way for the rest of her life.
Mom always enjoyed traveling and over the last 20 years of her life she had the chance to visit many domestic and international places with her sisters and Sheila, including Germany, France, Italy, Canada.
Mom was one of the founding Board Members of the Annie C Courtney Foundation, a non-profit named for her mother. Memorial donations can be made in her name to the foundation at www.AnnieC.org.
Friends and family are welcome to pay their respects at Spear-Miller Funeral Home, 39 South Benson Road, Fairfield on Thursday, April 7, 2022 from 4 to 7 p.m. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at Our Lady of Assumption Church hall the following morning on Friday, April 8 at 10:30 a.m.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Patricia (Courtney) McGovern, please visit our floral store.
Annie C Courtney Foundation
15 Boyden Street, Waterbury CT 06704