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Wagner, Mary Ellen May 29, 1932 - December 19, 2020

Mary Ellen (Collins) Wagner passed away peacefully at her home in New Providence, NJ on December 19th at the age of 88.  She leaves behind 4 children, 10 grandchildren and numerous beloved family members and friends.

Mary Ellen was born on May 29, 1932 to William Francis Collins and Elizabeth Hartert.  She was the oldest of their five daughters and grew up doting on her sisters: Nancy Silvey (deceased), Eileen Hickey, Kathleen Coppola (deceased) and Sheila Grant.

After the Benedictine Academy, she graduated from Seton Hall University and worked as a biologist at Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, performing lab research.

She met the love of her life, the late Ernest J. Wagner, at a dance at the Jersey Shore.  Within 6 months, Ernie had proposed at the New York Botanical Garden and they were married.

During a 5-year span, the Wagners had 4 children: Michael (Mary) Wagner, Pauline (John) Groetelaars, Elizabeth (Allan) Lundberg, and Catherine (Alex) Wagner.  They made their home in Pelham Parkway (Bronx), with Mary Ellen working as a stay-at-home mom and volunteering at the Holy Rosary School and the Villa Maria Academy.

Mary Ellen had many pleasures, especially the time she spent with her grandchildren: Matthew, Ellie, Sara, Andom, Emmeny, John, Andrew, James, Marina and Max.  She was a voracious consumer of books, crossword puzzles and politics.  She loved being with Ernie and with her sisters, and the family gatherings at Lake Owassa (NJ) and in Marco Island (FL).

She was a woman of uncommon strength.  She had survived or endured breast cancer, macular degeneration, COVID, brain surgery, and many seasons as a NY Jets fan.  She died on her own terms, and surrounded by family.

Due to COVID, a small (live-streamed) service will take place on December 23rd at St. Joseph’s Church (Bronxville).  In lieu of flowers, please send donations in Mary Ellen’s honor to the American Cancer Society.

Mass: 10:45 am, Wednesday, December 23, 2020 at St. Joseph's Church, Bronxville

To Live Stream Mass: Please Click Here

In lieu of flowers: please send donations in Mary Ellen’s honor to the American Cancer Society.



  1. REPLY
    Lynn Stanziani says

    The Stanziani family is so so sorry for the passing of your mom . Praying for you and your whole family RIP Mary Ellen

  2. REPLY
    Averille and Delroy Wilson says

    May your family find peace in a live well lived. God’s love be with you, especially during this time.

  3. REPLY
    Furio family says

    May she Rest In Peace 🙏 our deepest condolences to all who knew and loved her .

  4. REPLY
    Maura Campbell says

    Michael, Pauline, Liz and Kate….(and families). I was so saddened to hear about your mom’s passing. So many great memories of our childhoods at the lake. My family has always been so grateful for our mothers’ friendship…I do believe that they are sharing a drink and a lot of laughs right now.

  5. REPLY
    Lo Fitzgibbons says

    Deepest condolences for the passing of such a wonderful person. Sending all of my love during this time. I remember Mary Ellen vividly and fondly from Lake Owassa days which shows how impactful her spirit was and that it carries on.

  6. REPLY
    Emily Singhota Spilker says

    Sending love to you all from our family. Your mom and grand mom was a great woman. I will miss her reassuring, calm, strong presence. I have fond memories of her seeing us off on our adventures as young women just shaking her head … and was so glad to meet her with my family as a grown woman!

  7. REPLY
    Brian Campbell says

    I’m sorry it took me so long to comment. My mother (Sheila) and her were the best of friends going back to grammar school. She was curious about the person in front of her…always asking questions with those eyes intently focused. I can still see it, 40 years later. I was just a kid when her and Ernie would pull up to our lake cabin in their little Mercedes, which of course, sent all us kids scrambling to check it out. Just nice people. Conversational. How are you guys? They don’t make them like Mary Ellen or Sheila anymore – all we can do is try. Warmest condolences to all of you. – Brian Campbell and family

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