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Feb 8, 2018 2:26 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Mary Ellen Thiele Rooney, Formerly Of Bridgehampton Dies February 5

Feb 13, 2018 12:42 PM

Mary Ellen “Reggie” Rooney died on February 5, 2018, at her home in Hudson Heights, New York City. She was 83.

The daughter of Ellen M. Thiele, an Irish school teacher, and Charles A. Thiele, a German bootlegger turned slot machine dealer, Ms. Rooney was born on October 30, 1934, and grew up in Bridgehampton. Her spirit for adventure became clear when she saw a picture of Scotland in a book, survivors said. Secreting away her wages working as a maid’s maid for Madam Balsan, the former Duchess of Marlborough, she bought a ticket to England on a steamship and boldly announced to her parents that she was to set sail for adventure. She graduated from St. Lawrence University via the University of Edinburgh and hit New York City ready to take the publishing world by storm. Her life never followed a traditional path so it would be useless to cover it in a linear fashion, survivors said. Highlights of her life include, writing for countless outlets in her own poetic style; cultivating a deep love and understanding for birds and rocks; becoming a licensed falconer at age 70; singing tenor in the New York Oratorio Society and the Saint George’s Choral Society; diving with Cousteau Society in French Polynesia; driving a potato truck in Bridgehampton; hanging out with runaway bank robbers in Denver, Colorado; crewing a boat in Operation Sail for the bicentennial in 1976 with broken ribs; visiting spiritual healers, priests, reiki practitioners, acupuncturists and therapy modality and taking what she needed and leaving the rest; helping countless people addicted to alcohol with her experience, strength and hope; displaying her photography all over America, notably her “Windows on Wise Women” exhibitions in Boston’s Beacon Hill; shepherding her brother, Carl, to the “other side” when he died in the early 1990s; teaching English in Kyrgyzstan and the Czech Republic; attending her son, Lucas’s opening nights decked in diamonds, exclaiming proudly “I am the star’s mother!”; surviving the untimely death of her son, Colin, with grace; watching over her grandchildren, Derek, Devon and Morgan, and making sure they knew that they came from uncommon stock; creating a home in the old city of Quebec with her husband, Dr. Wallace C. Rooney Jr.; marveling at her son, Peter’s doggedness in business and life; having an eclectic, vast group of friends and carefully tending to them through the years; bookending her life with trans-Atlantic journeys on the Queen Mary; never backing away from a fight and leaving her opponents grateful for having crossed her path.

Visitation was February 11 at Brockett Funeral Home in Southampton. Interment was at Sacred Hearts Cemetery. A public memorial service will be held in New York City in the spring.

Memorial donations may be made to the St. George’s Choral Society.

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Farewell to Mary Ellen Thiele. I knew her when we were teenagers. She was destined for more than Bridgehampton! Her parents were nice folks to us kids, wild teenagers. Too bad someone had to report her father's shaded past. Lots of men living on the South Fork at those times did the same thing. Mary Ellen was fun, a true Irish girl.
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