OSWEGO, NY – Margaret Anne Finnegan Griffin passed away peacefully on Tuesday March 11, 2014, at St. Luke Health Services, Oswego, one month shy of 101 years young.
She was the daughter of Ellen McCarthy and Daniel Finnegan who had emigrated from Counties Cork and Sligo in Ireland.
In early 1900, Daniel opened a bar and grille on East Mitchell Street.
While he and Ellen awaited the birth of Margaret, the fourth of what would be their five children, he moved the business to 67 E. Seneca St., where it became the Ontario Grille.
After many years, the business was taken over by son, Bernard (Bub,) and after his passing, by his wife, Charlotte.
From its beginning, the Finnegan family operated the business for more than 90 years.
It was at 67 E. Seneca St. on April 8, 1913, that Margaret came into the world to charm many with her marvelous personality throughout the years.
Upon graduating from Oswego High School, Margaret enrolled in nursing school but returned home to take care of her ailing mother.
During the height of World War ll, her three brothers and nephew were fighting for our country, two in Europe, one in the Far East and another as a trainer in the states.
She loved to tell of the small service flag with its white center and red border containing four blue stars that was proudly displayed in the window of the Ontario Grille.
Two brothers, Bub and Jack, were wounded; Bub seriously, with Jack also missing in action for several weeks.
She told of praying that none of those stars would need to have a gold star sewn over them. Her prayers were answered.
In 1944, while working for the New York Telephone Company, she was asked to move to San Francisco for six months and did so without reservation.
Six months turned into 59 years and it is during that time that she met her husband and love of her life, Donald Griffin, who predeceased her.
While Aunt Margaret was living in California, she made periodic visits back to her home and family in Oswego and kept in touch with her best friends, Liz Spencer McNamara and Vesta Manor Wells.
She retired from the Pacific Bell Telephone Company in 1978 after 40 years of service.
Margaret loved to travel and visited her parents’ birthplace in Ireland; she was a volunteer at the YMCA in San Francisco and kept active riding her bicycle well into her late 80s.
She believed in exercising, eating good food and drinking a daily mixture of Jack Daniels with Dubonnet and a glass of wine with dinner.
Aunt Margaret decided at the age of 90 and, “because all of my friends have kicked the bucket,” it was time to come back to the place she called home, Oswego.
She moved to Shady Lane where she was independent for two years and still driving, after having to retake a New York State driver’s test and passing.
The instructor said, “You drive better than most teenagers.”
She was fortunate to then move into Assisted Living at Bishops Commons and finally St. Luke Health Services where everyone she met she loved and they loved her in return.
Aunt Margaret had a big celebration at St. Luke Health for her 100th birthday with her picture on the Champions at News Channel 9 followed by a presentation by Patti Ritchie’s office, a proclamation by the Senate in Albany honoring Margaret Anne Finnegan Griffin’s special 100th birthday.
A barbershop quartet came to sing her Happy Birthday, followed by gifts and food with family and friends; and she received her goal of more than 100 birthday cards.
Margaret was preceded in death by her parents, Ellen and Daniel; brothers, Daniel, John and Bernard (Bub) Finnegan; sister, Nell Cavellier; nephew, Frederick Cavellier; and niece, Frances Finnegan Borland, whose birth date Aunt Margaret died on.
She is survived by nieces and nephews: Daniel Cavellier (Marietta, Ga.) Karen Finnegan Decker (Greenville, NC), Margaret Finnegan Tombolillo, Bernice Finnegan Strother, Bernard Finnegan and Daniel Finnegan (Oswego); and many grand-nieces and grand-nephews.
A very special thanks to all the staff at Bishops Commons and St. Luke Health Services for the love, care and compassion they gave to Aunt Margaret and especially to the Fourth Floor and ancillary staff at St. Luke’s.
Donations can be made to the Activities Fund at St. Luke Health Services, 299 East River Road, Oswego, New York 13126.
A memorial service will be held on September 15 at 9 a.m. at St. Paul’s Roman Catholic Church, East Fifth Street, with burial to follow at St. Paul’s Cemetery.
Arrangements are by the Dain-Cullinan Funeral Home.