Marianne McElrath

Marianne H. McElrath

1935 - 2009

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Obituary of Marianne H. McElrath

Marianne H. McElrath, 73, of 130 Marvin Parkway in Jamestown, died early Wednesday, September 16, 2009 in her home after a long struggle with cancer. She was born December 29, 1935 in Grove City, Pa., the daughter of the late Lorenza and Thelma Glenn Hoffman, and was married to James McElrath Sr. on August 3, 1957. Marianne attended high school in Mercer, Pa. and later, Westminster College and the University of Pittsburgh to pursue a degree in nursing. This stint in college was cut short due to the birth of her first child, though she later returned to college to complete her Bachelor's degree at Fredonia State some 15 years later. She went on to receive her Master's degree in Education with a concentration in Mental Health Counseling from St. Bonaventure University in 1978. For nearly 40 years, Marianne dedicated her life to counseling in the Chautauqua/Warren region. She was instrumental in establishing the first mental health crisis line locally while program coordinator in the area's first inpatient mental health unit at Jamestown General Hospital. She later worked for Chautauqua County Mental Health eventually becoming clinic director, a position she held for 14 years until he retirement in 1996. Marianne was also a well known and sought after private counseling practitioner for 30 years, specializing primarily in life transitions including death and dying, assertiveness and mind/body/spirit themes. Among her many honors for work in mental health, she was interviewed in 1979 by McCalls magazine for her work with a terminal cancer patient at the beginning of the death and dying support movement in this country. Additional honors include recognition by the State Office of Mental Health for starting the first support group for families of the mentally ill, who subsequently honored her for her support and advocacy. She was honored in 1994 by SUNY Fredonia's Department of Sociology as an outstanding alumnus. In 1998 she received STEL's Community Service Award and in 2005 she was honored with the YWCA's Women of Achievement Award. Marianne was a tireless supporter of our community, serving on many local boards. She loved celebrations, rituals, traditions, movies, books, birding, gardening, music, cats, nature and most importantly, family and friends. In addition to her husband of 52 years, surviving are two daughters, Dr. Karen McElrath (Mick) of County Louth, Ireland and Amy McElrath, her tireless caretaker, of Jamestown; two sons, James McElrath Jr. (Myriam) of Bemus Point and Dr. Michael McElrath (Maggie) of Jamestown; three grandchildren, Kevin and Brandon McElrath of Bemus Point and Aoife McElrath of Ireland; a brother, Dr. Graham Hoffman (Mary Evelyn) of Honeoye, NY; as well as several nieces, nephews and "surrogate" family members. The funeral will be held at 2:00 p.m. Sunday at Christ First United Methodist Church. The Rev. Douglas M. Knopp will officiate. Friends will be received from 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m. Saturday in the Lind Funeral Home. In lieu of flowers, Marianne requested memorials be made to Hospice Chautauqua County, 20 W. Fairmount Ave., Lakewood, NY 14750.