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Mary E. "Mae" Wolfram, 90, of Westmont

(nee McKernan) of Westmont, NJ passed away peacefully in her sleep on December 24, 2023 at the age of 90.  She was preceded in death by her devoted husband Joseph Wolfram and her brothers Jack McKernan (Margie) and Vince McKernan.  Her five loving children survive her: Marianne (Andrew) Zappone, Joe (Monica), John (Molly), Judy (Jack) Marino and Jim (Jennifer); seventeen grandchildren, her sister Kathleen McKernan, sisters-in-law Rosalie McKernan and Bernadette Kavanaugh (Mike),

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brother-in-law Mike Wolfram (Dee), and many cousins, nieces, and nephews. 

Mae was born in Camden, NJ on February 14,1933.  She began school at St. Joan of Arc in Camden, NJ in 1938 at the age of five as a first grader. In November 1942, her family moved to Audubon and she entered St. Rose of Lima in Haddon Heights as a fourth grader. She attended Camden Catholic High School and graduated in 1950 at the age of seventeen. She worked at Curtis Publishing for a year before entering St. Joseph’s Hospital School of Nursing located at 16th and Girard in Philadelphia in 1951. The total tuition cost for three years was $250!  Mae earned her diploma in 1954 and went to work for the next five years at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Camden, NJ as Head Nurse on “3 West.” In 1956, Mae began evening school at Villanova University (which was all male at the time with the exception of the nursing school), then went back to school full time in 1959 and worked twenty hours per week to earn money for her tuition. She graduated from Villanova University in 1962 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing (although she had finished classes in December 1961) and began teaching at Our Lady of Lourdes School of Nursing until 1965.  

Mae met her husband Joe and they married on December 26, 1964.  Soon after, she was expecting her first child (Marianne) and stopped working in 1965. They had five children and in 1972 moved from the house in Pennsauken to the red brick house on Cuthbert Boulevard, her “castle,” where Mae would spend the next forty-eight years. Mae’s husband Joe passed away in May 1976, leaving her a widow at the age of forty-three with five young children to raise. Very much a woman ahead of her time, Mae demonstrated the fortitude of her character as she faced the challenges of being a single parent with grace and poise. The education of her children was one of her top priorities.   

Once her five children were well into school, Mae began to work part time as a nurse for Dr. Marchesani, her family’s pediatrician. She also began substitute school nursing at Tatem School in Haddonfield and returned to school at Rowan University at night for her certification in school nursing. Twenty credits later, she earned her certificate and in 1987 she began a ten-year career as a full time school nurse at Tatem School.  Upon retirement, she began watching her grandchildren and was also asked to set up a Health curriculum for Holy Saviour School at the request of the principal. Not only did she write the curriculum, but she taught it in grades one through five for four years. Two years later, she set up a first aid curriculum for middle school students and taught that as well. 

Mae’s love of nursing and the health profession is obvious as she spent a lifetime involved in many facets of the field. She often told stories of the “Golden Age of Medicine” such as the miracle of penicillin in the 1940’s and vaccines such as the polio vaccine in the 1950’s. Even in her eighties she participated in a long-term cancer research study for nonmetastatic melanoma at Jefferson University Hospital.  Her family was told that she even gave a fellow resident the Heimlich maneuver when they started choking at dinner in her assisted living facility. Mae was the definition of a nurse, and it was truly her life’s vocation.

Mae was devoted to the health of body, mind, and spirit. Mae was a devout Catholic who lived her faith and was an active member of Holy Saviour parish and school.  She served on the Parish Council and was also a Trustee. She was a Eucharistic Minister for the parish and also brought communion to parishioners in their homes for many years. She helped to count the collection money after weekend masses as well.  Mae was devoted to Our Lady and prayed the rosary regularly. Her high school yearbook even noted, “Faithful follower of Our Lady” above her photo. Mae prayed the rosary with fellow parishioners for many years on Monday evenings at Holy Saviour. She kept her favorite statue of the Blessed Mother on the fireplace mantle for the forty-eight years she lived in her home on Cuthbert Boulevard, then brought it with her to her assisted living apartment for the last two years of her life. Mae lived her faith by word and example, never wavering from her beliefs or her reliance on prayer, and always relying on Jesus in the Eucharist for her strength. 

Mae’s devotion to her family was especially evident in her love for each and every one of her seventeen grandchildren. While typically refined and proper with her children, “Nana” could be silly and funny with her grandchildren and was not above donning a clown wig at graduation parties or giving treat bags as “medicine” for feeling down. Popsicles, Dixie cups, cookies, and treat bags for the ride home were typical goodies at Nana’s house. Mae cherished her grandchildren and loved to hear all about them right up until her death.  

Relatives and friends are invited to attend her viewing on Saturday, December 30, 2023, 9:30 to 11:00 AM at St. Teresa of Calcutta Parish, Holy Saviour Church, 50 Emerald Ave., Westmont, NJ 08108.  Mass of Christian Burial will follow at 11:00 AM.  Interment Calvary Cemetery, Cherry Hill, NJ.  In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made in Mae's memory to the church at the above address.