age 86 of Mt. Lebanon, passed peacefully on Monday morning, September 12, 2022 surrounded by her family. Beloved wife of the late Neil Birks; devoted mother of Jane Charlotte (Rodney) Palmer of Chesapeake VA and David J. (Mary D.) Birks of Mt. Lebanon; doting grandmother of Alex Birks (Michelle Cashen) of Brooklyn, NY; Kayleigh Birks (Elliott Harry) of Sacramento, CA; and Lauren Palmer of Chesapeake, VA. Born in the village of Methley, Nr Leeds, England at the start of WWII, Mary’s life embodied the words of Winston Churchill: “Keep calm and carry on!” She attended a private girls’ high school as one of only two scholarship students, where she excelled academically and in both athletics and music, most notably field hockey and as a pianist. Upon graduation, she matriculated to Sheffield School of Nursing, obtaining her degree and practicing pediatric nursing at Sheffield Children’s Hospital for over two decades. While in nursing school, she met the love of her life, Neil Birks, who was a student at nearby Sheffield University. They married in 1958 embarking on a life filled with love and family pursuits. She was committed to female leadership, mentoring many young women as part of Girl Guides for over a decade. Neil’s job facilitated traveling to many countries, and an eventual move for the family to Pittsburgh in 1978. Having switched her career to Weight Watchers while in England, Mary continued her work after the move to Pittsburgh, as director of the innovative At Work program. She had an active lifestyle, and until recent health issues prevented it, could often be seen out speed walking her neighborhood each day. Her infectious laugh and zest for life led to a large circle of devoted and supportive friends. After Neil’s untimely passing in 2001, Mary’s unwavering Christian faith sustained her during the next twenty one years of her life. Her love of travel continued after his death, including trips to China, South America, Europe, Australia, New Zealand and her latest trip this past July to Alaska with her daughter, Jane. Mary was a quiet Christian, living out her faith daily in her generosity to her family, friends and many charities she supported. She will be deeply missed by all. The family will receive friends at a celebration of Mary’s life at Mt. Lebanon United Methodist Church, 3319 West Liberty Avenue, Dormont, on Friday, September 16th at 11am with a reception immediately following. The family suggests that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to one of Mary’s favorite charities: Covenant House, Outreach Teen & Family Services or Mt. Lebanon United Methodist Church.
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