Mary Jane (Schroeder) Gryniuk, 79, passed away peacefully on August 22, 2023 in Torrington CT, with her loving family by her side.
Mary Jane was born September 10, 1943, the oldest of six daughters born to Walter (Tweet) Schroeder and Marguerite L. (Marge) (Lavalette) Schroeder. She leaves behind her husband of 60 years Richard of Torrington, her children Mark (Linda) Gryniuk, Michael Gryniuk, Julie Ann (Alan) Nilsson, and Jeffrey (Liz Jacob) Gryniuk, her beloved grandchildren whom she adored: Mitchell and Lukas Gryniuk, Jordan Marie and Jacob Nilsson, and Nathan Gryniuk. She is also survived by her five sisters Barbara Bambakidou (Peter) of Torrington, Nancy Perez (John Sherwood) of New Hartford, Joan Schroeder (Tony Silano) of Winsted, Laura Schroeder (Kai Wiedman) of Cupertino, CA, and Julie Fabiaschi (John) of Torrington, and numerous loving nieces and nephews and great nieces and nephews. She also leaves behind a whole slew of friends who will miss her presence in their lives daily.
Mary Jane and her mother spent the first 2 years of her life living with her mother and “Nana” and ”Papa” on Church St until her father came home from serving on Saipan in World War II. Growing up on Pythian Ave and Church St instilled in Mary Jane a love of Torrington, especially downtown. In her younger years, she worked in the downtown stores and spent many a happy hour window shopping with her many friends.
Mary Jane loved being a mother, grandmother, and adored her grandchildren, who always looked forward to a visit to “Mimi’s” house. One of her favorite pastimes was cooking amazing fabulous meals for her family and friends, and Sunday dinner was a regular routine for most of their lives. She managed to be an active volunteer in so many great civic ventures, including St. Francis Home School Association, Vice President and President of Mothers’ Club, SFS Bingo. She was the first woman to Chair the Torrington Democratic Town Committee, Chairperson of Litchfield Hills Council of Elected Officials, and was an indispensable legal secretary for 35 years at several local law firms. She was a member of, and often chaired, numerous boards, clubs, and service organizations, too many to list here.
Mary Jane was honored to serve as The Mayor of Torrington for three terms, from 1995-2001. Her time in office brought many accomplishments to Torrington, including the renovation of Fuessenich Park and introduction of the Torrington Twisters collegiate baseball team; a Naugatuck River boulder project; building up the “rainy day fund” to over $2million, the vehicle replacement plan; and, working with the City Council, she began a zero-based budget system. She was a great organizer and had a unique ability to encourage members of the public, including many major businesspeople, to dedicate their time, efforts, and money to various projects that benefitted the whole town. She initiated a summer intern program, a downtown revitalization project, an emergency operations center, and the Economic Development commission became much more active during her tenure as mayor. One of the crowning achievements of her term as mayor was the establishment of a second industrial park in Torrington. In order to achieve this, Mary Jane formed a public/private partnership by working with people from many walks of life. The voters of Torrington approved the development in a referendum.
MJ had the uncanny ability to remember people’s names and how she knew them, whether they had been clients at any of the law firms she’d worked at, or citizens of the town who’d come to their Mayor for help with an issue. She had a mind that never forgot you, and you always felt that she listened and sympathized with your personal situation. In her spare time (of which there was very little), she enjoyed reading, shopping, cooking elaborate meals, going out to dinner, and trips to the casino. Family was truly important to Mary Jane, she loved spending time with her grandchildren and getting together with the whole family during the holidays.
The family would like to express their extreme gratitude to the amazing staff at Wolcott Hall Nursing Center, who so lovingly cared for Mary Jane during her stay.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated Monday, August 28, 2023 at 11:00 a.m. directly at St. Francis of Assisi Church, 160 Main St., Torrington. Burial will follow in New St. Francis Cemetery, Torrington. Friends may call Sunday, August 27, 2023 from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m. at Gleeson-Ryan Funeral Home, 258 Prospect St., Torrington.
Friends who so desire may make memorial contributions in Mary Jane’s memory to St. John Paul the Great Academy, 360 Prospect St., Torrington CT 06790 or St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, 501 St. Jude Place, Memphis, TN 38105 (stjude.org/donate)