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Christian cook had the heart of a servant

SAINT JOHN - Mae Mahar is being remembered by friends and family as a happy, joyful Christian lady with the heart of a servant and a passion for cooking.

"For Mom, it was all about serving the Lord," Hyla Scott, the youngest of her five children, said Friday. "She loved to serve the Lord in every way she could, whether she was staying with a friend who was sick, cooking for them or cleaning for them.

"She had many friends from church," she added. "If they were not feeling well or anything like that, she would go to their home to clean and cook and care for them, filling their freezers. Then, she would move on to the next one. She never slowed down until she suffered a stroke about a year ago."

Mahar died of another stroke last Sunday at the St. John & St. Stephen Nursing Home. She was 79.

The Glen Falls resident was night supervisor at Deluxe French Fries on Rothesay Avenue up until she was diagnosed with stomach cancer, a disease she beat. Mahar was a cook at Catons Island, the Atlantic District Wesleyan youth retreat in the St. John River near Browns Flat. She also cooked at Beulah - where she was regular at family camp meetings for three decades - and for weddings and other special events at both First Wesleyan Church on Boars Head Road and, more recently, Kings Valley Wesleyan Church in Quispamsis.

Born in Blacks Harbour on Oct. 31, 1927, Edith Mae Stevens was one of 15 children of the late Robert and Eva Mae (Borthwick) Stevens. She married and gave birth to four of her children in Blacks, where she packed fish at the Connors Bros. sardine factory, before making the move to Saint John.

In addition to Hyla, Mahar's survivors include her eldest daughter, Lynn Mahar of Saint John; three sons, Donald, Stephen and Wayne Mahar, all of Saint John; four brothers; three sisters; six grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.

Mahar's door was always open to friends and family and, at times, to strangers.

"When we were kids, there was always somebody extra living with us," Scott recalled. "If there were family problems or somebody moving to the city, they were always welcome at our house . . . I don't remember this, but I was just told of how when we lived on Rothesay Avenue, a knock came on the door. It was a hobo off the street. Mom fed him and sent him on his way."

That was just the 'loving and caring" way her upbeat mother was, said Scott. "She was always happy," she said. "But she was happiest, I think, when her family - her brothers and sisters - came for a visit. She loved to spend time with them."

Mahar's good friend Bert Crozier eulogized Mahar at her funeral.

"She was always serving her neighbours and friends, young and old, exact number never told. She was always available to everybody," he said.

As good a cook as Mahar mother was, said Scott, the woman who made apple pies that were to die for sometimes got distracted and messed up. With no taste buds left following chemotherapy, Mahar once asked volunteer Rev. Don Ingersoll to taste her chili on Catons Island. Gagging, he had to tell her she had forgotten to cook the hamburger.

Another time, said Scott, her mother cooked an apple pie with the core still in it.

While her mother rarely used recipes, Scott is hoping to collect similar stories from family and friends for a tribute book or booklet entitled, Mae's Recipes.
SOURCE: New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal (Saint John, NB) - October 20, 2007.

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