Mary Sears

Obituary of Mary Helen Sears

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Mary Helen Sears, age 92, passed away on August 4, 2022, from natural causes. Mary Helen, as her family, friends, and colleagues always called her, was born on November 30, 1929, in Baldwinsville, New York, to Helen Mary (nee Fitzgerald) and James Louis Sears. She graduated from Cornell University in 1950 with a Bachelor of Science in chemistry, and, while working for the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and attending classes at night, graduated from George Washington Law School in 1960. She gained admission to the bars of Virginia, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. Supreme Court, and was registered to practice before the Patent and Trademark Office. She lived and worked in Washington, D.C., for most of her life. From the start, it was apparent Mary Helen, the eldest of four children, was blessed with a sharp mind. And, as she spent her early years, before college, on a dairy farm in central New York during the Depression and World War II, she quickly came to appreciate the importance of hard work, conscientiousness, and a strong Catholic faith -- not only as she did her chores but also as she applied herself in the classroom. Thus, by ingraining those qualities in herself, she graduated from high school at the age of sixteen and finished college and law school at a time when women did not tread such paths in the numbers they do today. It was also no accident, then, that diligence, determination, and patience -- not to mention a stalwart and unwavering commitment to her clients -- were the hallmarks of her distinguished, five-decade-long career practicing the law of intellectual property. Among many other impressive accomplishments, she played a key role in helping to patent the process that produces artificial insulin (a role that merited mention in Time magazine) and not only shepherded but also successfully litigated the patenting of the first coriolis-effect mass-flow meter. Though Mary Helen never married, her three younger siblings, Eleanor, Elizabeth (1936-2006), and John (1940-2020), provided her with five nieces and five nephews whom she unfailingly spoiled on important occasions -- especially Christmas. Moreover, she spent much of her free time knitting and doing needlepoint, and regularly presented her family with sweaters, jackets, scarves, pillows, and various other handicrafts, too. She also very much enjoyed tending to her flower garden. Mary Helen will be missed. Predeceased by two of her siblings, Elizabeth and John, as well as a nephew, Louis Fala (1961-1994), Mary Helen Sears is survived by her sister Eleanor, her nieces Mary Fala, Margaret Fala, Ellen (Sears) Rayhill, Amy (Sears) Nichols, and Mary Anne O'Donnell plus her nephews John O'Donnell, Michael O'Donnell, Peter O'Donnell, and James Sears. Mary Helen Sears's funeral services were previously held. They were arranged by Falardeau Funeral Home. Her remains are interred at St. Mary's Catholic Cemetery in Baldwinsville, New York.

Final Resting Place

St. Mary's Cemetery
Tappan Street
Baldwinsville, New York, United States
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