Obituary of Valerie K. Mario
Valerie Kay “Val” Mario departed her devoted and loving family on Sunday evening, October 22, 2023.
Valerie, who celebrated her 85th birthday earlier this year, was born to James Kenneth and Marjorie Cahaney Mortis on April 21, 1938, in Rome, NY. She grew up on Lake Delta where her greatest joy was water skiing behind her father’s boat. She became so accomplished at her sport, she was offered an opportunity to water ski professionally. With strong input from her father, Valerie stayed at home and graduated from Rome Free Academy in 1956.
Following graduation, Valerie obtained her associate degree at Bryant Junior College in Providence, RI. Upon returning to Rome, she took a position as a flight attendant with Mohawk Airlines, where she worked until her marriage to Gary L. Higgins on June 21,1958. After a long illness, Gary passed away early in their marriage.
Valerie married David O. Ferguson on December 1, 1961, and took a teaching position with Delta United Methodist Nursery School. She remained head teacher until 1978, where she also acted as treasurer and additionally became a board member.
On July 2,1978, Valerie married Anthony P. Mario and joined him in the operation of Margo Studio. She became active in the local chapter of the Professional Photographers Society of New York and dedicated herself to the success of their business. Working with her customers and ensuring they were pleased with their photographs was Valerie’s true calling.
When the studio closed, Valerie went back to teaching, accepting a Teacher Assistant position in 2008, with the Rome City School District. She loved working with the children and although she retired in 2018, her commitment to them led her to continue substituting throughout the next year. She had boundless energy and the children in her classroom adored her.
Valerie lived her life with a rare beauty and grace, kind to everyone she met. Her greatest love was family, and she gave all her energy and strength to ensure their well-being. She was an amazing mother and took great pride in her children’s accomplishments. She was also an adoring grandmother and great-grandmother.
Aside from Valerie’s tremendous love of family, she was also passionate about animals. She always had several cats and at least one special dog as a part of her family. Valerie spent many years rescuing strays in her neighborhood. She fostered many litters and would work tirelessly to find good homes for both mother and kittens. Customers of Margo Studio would often leave with more than just their pictures.
A few of Valerie’s fondest memories were those of her trip to Paris and the Caribbean cruise she took with family. She vacationed in Florida over many winters and considered it her happy place. Valerie had a lifelong love for boating, sailing, swimming, and just being on the water.
Valerie is survived by her daughter; Daryl Perkins and John Mecca, son; Jeffrey and Stacie Ferguson, stepsons; Anthony P. and Marcia Mario, Marc Mario, grandchildren; Valerie and Brendan Perkins, Rebecca and Michael Ferguson, Lorn Ferguson Jr. and Nicole Ferguson, Megan Ferguson, Scott Mario and Chris Juckins, great grandchildren; Oliviana Ferguson and Lorn Ferguson III, niece; Julie Mortis and Jaime Traverso. She was predeceased by her sons Kevin James Higgins and Lorn Ferguson, her brother; James K Mortis; sister-in-law Janice Mortis; her former husband’s Gary Higgins, David Ferguson and Anthony Mario.
The family extends their appreciation to Valerie’s wonderful caregivers Dina Arbes and Betty Narrows along with the staff at the Grand Adult Day Program whose kindness and compassion will not be forgotten.
Valerie’s friends and family are invited to gather on Sunday, October 29, 2023, from 2:00-5:00 PM at Strong, Burns and Sprock Funeral Home, 7751 Merrick Road, Rome NY, where a prayer service will be offered at 5:00 PM with Pastor Sherry Mahar officiating. Interment will be held Monday, October 30, 2023, at 10 AM at Evergreen Cemetery, Rome NY.
Celebration of Life
In Loving Memory
1938 - 2023
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