Belmont NY - Elizabeth “Bess” (O’Brien) Mulligan left this world to join her Lord and Savior and beloved family members on Friday, January 18, 2019. She was a tribute to a life well-lived. Bess is survived by her three children: Susan Mulligan McNamee of Nashua, NH; Pegg Mulligan Mitchell and her husband Paul of North Hornell, NY; Jim Mulligan and his wife Sharon of Belmont, NY. She is also survived by her 11 grandchildren, who fondly called her Mahara; 14 great grandchildren; and many treasured cousins, nieces, nephews, and friends. She was predeceased by her husband Leo, as well as her beloved siblings: Alice Keenan, Frank O'Brien, Josephine Jago, Helen Connor, Matthew O'Brien and Rachel McGarrity.
Born in Scio, NY on July 29, 1922, Bess was the fifth child of Terrance and May (Lewis) O’Brien. One of seven children, Bess enjoyed a childhood on the O’Brien family farm in Scio. Her brother Frank O’Brien captured some of the stories of their life in his 1994 book Frank, the Cows Are Out! While walking along the road to the family farm as a teenager, Bess first encountered Leo (Fetch) Mulligan, a Belmont man seven years her senior. Leo tried to give Bess a ride home to the farm, offering that he knew the O’Brien family. Unconvinced, Bess declined the ride and sent Leo on his way. In 1940, Bess left Scio for Buffalo, NY to attend the Meyer Memorial Hospital School of Nursing. She returned to Allegany County following graduation, and began her work as a registered nurse (RN) at Jones Memorial Hospital, (JMH) in Wellsville where she remained for over 40 years. In 1944, Bess treated a familiar face when Leo Mulligan was admitted with pneumonia. Leo and Bess courted for 7 years, and were married on June 6, 1951 at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Scio, NY. Leo and Bess were engaged community members at St. Mary’s Catholic Church, and Bess remained active through the Altar and Rosary Society. They were married for 47 years, until Leo’s passing in 1997.
Bess was a passionate and dedicated RN; in 1982, her work was recognized when she became the inaugural recipient of JMH Nurse of the Year award. During the course of her four decades as charge nurse at JMH, Bess was a well-respected and well-loved caregiver for Allegany County patients. Bess continued to care for people in the community, often answering calls at home and after hours. The daughter of a Welsh immigrant and third-generation Irish immigrant, Bess devoted much of her free time to welcoming new immigrants to the community, and providing them with care and assistance throughout their first years in NY State.
Bess’ love and dedication to her patients, family, and friends was one of her great joys in life. In addition to caring for others, Bess enjoyed gardening, reading, and traveling with Leo in their shared retirement years. She will be remembered by her family for her great kindness and spirited approach to life.
Friends are invited to call on Thursday, January 24 from 4pm to 7pm at the J. W. Embser Sons Funeral Home Inc., 17 Schuyler Street in Belmont. A Mass of Christian Burial will be Celebrated on Friday, January 25 at 10:00 am at the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph Church, 5 Milton Street in Belmont. Burial will be in St. Mary's Cemetery. Please consider memorial donations in Elizabeth Mulligan's name to the Allegany County Office of the Aging, 6085 State Route 19N, Belmont, NY 14813 or to Jones Memorial Hospital, 191 N Main Street, Wellsville, NY 14895. To leave online condolences, please visit www.embserfuneralhome.com.