Mary Barelli Gallagher, former Personal Secretary to First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy and Senator John F. Kennedy from Massachusetts, died peacefully of natural causes on April 22, 2022. She was 95.
Born Mary Barelli in Hyde Park, Massachusetts, a suburb of Boston, on March 16, 1927, the youngest of twelve children, to Mr. Pietro Barelli, originally from Rome, Italy and Mrs. Lucia Iacuone Barelli, originally from Foggia, Italy.
Mary attended St. Raphael Parochial School and in 1944, graduated from Hyde Park High School with Honors. Mary was the first to be chosen for early release in the senior girls' newly started workforce program that eventually led to her future secretarial career. She reported for a job interview in Boston at the paper firm of Hollingsworth & Whitney Company and was immediately hired as a Stenographer, holding the position of Secretary to the Vice President in charge of Sales, starting on March 8, 1944.
In November, 1952, she was personally appointed in Boston by Senator John F. Kennedy, the newly-elected Senator from Massachusetts, as one of his first four secretaries in his Capitol Hill office, Washington, D.C. She was sworn in for a six-year term on January 3, 1953, serving him and his family for the next twelve years.
In August, 1954, Mary met Raymond A. Gallagher in Washington, D.C. They were married in April, 1955, at which time, they moved into their Belle Haven home in Alexandria, Virginia. Mary continued working until the following spring, two weeks before the birth of their first son, Christopher, in May, 1956. At that time, she offered to help Senator Kennedy from her office at home, which then led to a part-time working arrangement with his mother-in-law, Mrs. Hugh D. Auchincloss, at her "Merrywood" home in McLean, Virginia. Mary would then alternate her weekdays between Mrs. Auchincloss and Mrs. Jacqueline Kennedy, her daughter, at her Georgetown, D.C. home, to accommodate both in their need of part-time secretarial help.
In May, 1957, Mary gave birth to their second son, Gregory, and soon thereafter, was able to resume her "Merrywood/Georgetown" working schedule until the Presidential Campaign year of 1960, which demanded her full-time attention.
During the Kennedy administration, Mary served as Personal Secretary to First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy, working closely with her in the Family Quarters of The White House. Mary accompanied the President and First Lady on the trip to Dallas, Texas, on November 22, 1963, riding in the presidential motorcade and witnessing the swearing in of Lyndon B. Johnson on Air Force One at Love Field, prior to the return flight back to Washington, D.C.
Mary continued working for Mrs. Kennedy until the fall of 1964, when Mrs. Kennedy and her children, Caroline and John Jr. moved to New York City. As a result, this concluded Mary's tenure working for Mrs. Kennedy.
In September, 1969, Mary authored a best-selling book, "My Life with Jacqueline Kennedy." Additional publications were also printed at that time in six foreign countries, in both hardback and paperback editions. This book was preceded in July and August by excerpts in The Ladies Home Journal Magazine, detailing the close, personal working relationship between Mary and Mrs. Kennedy, which began in 1957. Within six weeks after publication, it was rated number one on TIME Magazine's Best Seller List!
In 1981, Mary re-entered the outside working world again on a part-time basis, serving various CEOs at local major companies in the Alexandria/D.C. area for the following fifteen years, retiring in 1996, at age 69.
In retirement, Mary managed to fit in several of her favorite avocations, including travel, knitting, swimming, baking, maintaining family photo albums and playing bridge, which allowed various opportunities to be among friends, relaxing and having fun. In keeping with the adage by which she lived and considered herself truly blessed, she was able to enjoy life-long friendships nurtured and maintained from the earliest age, forever claiming that " ...your greatest treasures on earth are your family and friends."
As a widow, she was always sustained by the happiest memories of her wonderful 48-year marriage to Ray, as well as the caring support of her two sons, always looking out for her best interests.
Mary will be remembered most by those who knew her for her boundless energy, as well as for her positive attitude and outlook fostered throughout her long, most interesting lifetime.
Mary was predeceased by her beloved husband, Ray, of 48 years in 2003 and is survived by her two loving, devoted sons, Christopher of Alexandria, Virginia and Gregory of Alexandria, Virginia, and numerous nieces and nephews.
Visitation will be held on Sunday, May 8th from 2 pm to 4 pm at Everly-Wheatley Funeral Home, 1500 W. Braddock Road, Alexandria, Virginia 22302. Mass of Christian Burial will be offered on Monday, May 9th at 10:30 am at The Basilica of St. Mary, 310 South Royal Street, Alexandria, Virginia, followed by interment at St. Mary's Catholic Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Sister Connie Passing on the Faith Scholarship, St. Ann School 6529 Stage Road, Bartlett, TN 38134.
(Reception following burial, by St. Mary's Bereavement Committee)