PORTLAND – Sarah “Sally” McNeil, 92, left this world on December 1, 2021, surrounded by her loved ones.
Sally was born in Bangor on July 15, 1929, daughter of the late Stephen and Margaret (Nash) McNeil. She was one of twelve children who grew up in a Scottish Catholic family during the Depression and the War Years. As a child, Sally attended St. John’s Grammar School and graduated in 1947 from John Bapst High School in Bangor. Shortly after graduation, Sally entered the Mercy Sisters. Her desire to serve God and her neighbor, as well as her strong Scottish roots, brought her to religious life. While at the convent, Sally was given the religious name Sister Mary Conrad. As a Sister of Mercy, she attended St. Joseph’s College where she obtained a Bachelor of Science in Education. After graduation, her first teaching post was at Cathedral Elementary School where she remained for many years. She also taught briefly at Indian Island Elementary School. Sister Conrad loved to teach and loved her students. She was often seen playing “sock ball” with her students during recess. Years later, she would meet her former students when they were adults and had families of their own. It was evident from these exchanges that she was a beloved teacher and that the mutual respect and affection formed years ago still existed.
After 25 years as Sister of Mercy, she left the convent wishing for a more secular life. With her life changing, Sally quickly accepted a job as head of housekeeping at Mercy Hospital. She enjoyed the challenges of her new career and the many friendships she made there. She retired from the hospital in 1995 after more than 20 years of service.
Sally was a friend of Shirley and William York for several years. In 1974, following William’s unexpected death, Sally moved into the York family and fulfilled an important, heartwarming and loving role. She became a friend and confidante to the children of York, Kim, Kelly and William, and a second mother to Mary who was only two years old at the time. Sally would remain their “chosen family” for the rest of her life. For over 45 years, Sally and Shirley have been the best friends and companions who together provided a home filled with faith, love, adventure, laughter and support. York House was filled with a lot of fun and activity. Sally loved all the “buzz” but never wanted to be the center of attention. She was truly one of a kind, a welcoming and unpretentious person. The family is growing with the arrival of the grandchildren of Shirley, Brett and Katie. Once again, Sally blossomed as a grandmother figure who loved, nurtured and protected them as they grew up. Later, when the family was blessed with Giorgia, Rocco, Madison and Charlotte, Sally enthusiastically welcomed these great-grandchildren into the fold.
Sally was especially proud of her Scottish heritage and the fact that she and other relatives were able to trace their roots back to the Isle of Barra. Sally remained close to all of her siblings and many nieces and nephews, most of whom lived in the Bangor and Connecticut area. She especially enjoyed the fun times spent at her sister Peggy’s camp each summer. It was there that she got to see several of her siblings and other family members while having fun swimming and playing endless hours of scat and other card games.
Sally was a longtime communicant of St. Joseph’s Church and has remained deeply faithful throughout her life. Christmas was a particularly special time of year for Sally. Their home was filled with her favorite things – family, friends, food, music, and celebration of the birth of Christ. At other times, she enjoyed cooking and spent as much time reading cookbooks as she did cooking. She learned throughout her life and still read books and later collected information from her tablet. She enjoyed camping, playing cards, beano, putting together puzzles, and playing games of chance. Trips to the casino have always been welcome for Sally. She was a fierce sports fan and competitive competitor who loved professional wrestling and all of its New England teams – the Red Sox, Patriots and Celtics.
Following the sale of their Elmwood Street home where they lived for almost forty years, she and Shirley lived in Park Danforth in Portland, where they formed even more friendships with residents and staff.
She was predeceased by her dearest friend, Shirley York, in 2019, and all of her eleven siblings. She is survived by the York children and their spouses, two grandchildren and their spouses, four great-grandchildren, as well as many beloved nieces and nephews and their families.
Visiting hours will be Thursday, December 9, 2021 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Conroy-Tully Walker Funeral Home, 172 State Street, Portland. Prayers will be recited on Friday, December 10 at 9:15 a.m. at the funeral home followed by a Christian burial mass at 10:00 a.m. at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, 307 Congress Street, Portland. Interment will be held at Calvary Cemetery in South Portland on Monday, December 13 at 2:00 p.m. To view Sally’s memorial page or to share condolences online, please visit http://www.ConroyTullyWalker.com.
Those who wish can make commemorative contributions to the Sisters of Mercy,
966 Riverside Street,
Portland, Maine 04103.
Obituary: Robert Henry Bérubé