May Bernice McCann, a longtime resident of Irvington, passed away at home on Wednesday, Nov. 18, two weeks after being diagnosed with ALS.
Bernice was born to Bernard Joseph and Dolores Ann McCann, née Sheils, on June 26, 1950, the fifth of seven children. Born and raised in New Rochelle, she attended Holy Name of Jesus Grammar School and St Gabriel’s High School. She went on to earn undergraduate and graduate degrees from Iona College, The College of New Rochelle, and City College.
Bernice devoted her life to people of all ages and her career to children. She worked as a special education teacher in the Bronx, as an educator at The Children’s Village, and as a school psychologist in the Clarkstown Central School District and Rockland County Jail.
In spring of 1973 Bernice met her future husband, Jack Doyle, when she visited the apartment of an eclectic group of young people devoted to social justice. She had heard that they were going to run a free summer camp for neighborhood children and she wanted to pitch in. Jack and Bernice worked at that camp for two summers. They were married on August 11, 1974 in a spirited outdoor potluck wedding. They started their life together in the Bronx where they later welcomed two children, Sharon Marie in May 1977 and John Bernard in May 1980.
Bernice made everyone she met feel accepted and comfortable being their authentic selves. The daily rhythm of her life was in service to others, whether through homeless outreach; civil disobedience in opposition to the bombing of Yemen; providing a home for a Bosnian refugee teen; caring for the land and the bees at The Mariandale Center; or shuttling her grandchildren to and from activities. Her four grandchildren were central to her life and she joined them on many adventures.
During her final nine days at home, Bernice was surrounded by family and friends who shared memories, gratitude, and, most of all, their love for her. True to form, Bernice was slow to complain and quick to laugh in the weeks and months leading up to her death.
Bernice is survived by her husband, Jack Doyle; her mother, Dolores Ann; her son, John McCann-Doyle; her daughter, Sharon McCann-Doyle; devoted son-in-law, Stefan Van Engen; and grandchildren Kiernan, Maeve, Tighe, and Quinn. Bernice is also survived by her loving siblings Brian McCann (Linda), Barry McCann (Lynn), Sharon Archer (Tom), AnnMarie Roe (Monte), and Judy McCann. She leaves behind brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, cousins, nieces, nephews, godchildren, and friends, all of whom she loved.
A Mass of the Resurrection was celebrated on Nov. 21 at the The Mariandale Center Chapel in Ossining. Burial followed at Sleepy Hollow Cemetery. Bernice’s life will be celebrated in a larger gathering of family and friends in summer 2021. The family invites donations to be made to Catholic Relief Services (CRS.org) and The Catholic Worker, 55 East 3rd St., New York, NY 10003.