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Mary Elyn McNichols, 81, of Roanoke passed away unexpectedly but peacefully Saturday, October 15, 2022. She is a daughter of the late Ralph S. Gregory, Sr. and Mary Elyn MacGillivray. In addition to her parents, she is preceded in death by her beloved daughter, Amy Elizabeth Lauth.
Surviving are her husband of 42 years, Robert McNichols; children, Larry Lauth (Kim), Laura Elyn Lauth Schneck (Ronald), and Wade McNichols (Virginia); sisters and brothers, Susan Gregory Jakob (Donald), Ralph S. Gregory, Nancy Gregory Wildt (Frank) and John Gregory; grandchildren, Simon, Oscar, Sawyer, Nathan, Alton, Grace, and Madeline; numerous nieces, nephews, and other family and friends.
Mary Elyn grew up in Chicago, Illinois with her parents, the eldest of five siblings. A tough cookie, she was educated by the nuns at Catholic school. She put herself through college at the University of Illinois, earning a Bachelor’s degree in English and Secondary Education. Along the way, she collected many honors: Phi Beta Kappa, numerous scholarships, and leadership positions, including student senator. She was especially proud to be President of the Independent Women’s Association. Mary Elyn continued her education at Ohio State University, receiving a Masters in Counseling Psychology while serving as a resident advisor. Soon, she was promoted to head advisor, putting Mary Elyn in charge (a recurring theme throughout her life). Upon graduating, she took a job as assistant Dean of Students at University of Maryland.
Mary Elyn then married, becoming a loving mother to her precious children. Balancing her home life, she continued to work as a instructor of clinical and counseling psychology at Northern Virginia Community College while simultaneously founding and creating two nonprofit childcare centers for student-parents of the college. From there, she took on a position as executive director of the New River Agency on Aging for the next five years, creating, providing, and coordinating a diverse range of services for the elderly. During this time she met Bob, her chief supporter, cheerleader, and beloved husband of the last 42 years. Together they founded Coordinated Services Management, Inc. (1981) and McNichols and Associates (1980).
As Executive Vice President of CSM, Mary Elyn served as management administrator of sixteen elderly retirement facilities. Using her expertise in marketing and interior design, her properties flourished. She loved working with nonprofit care communities for the Catholic Diocese of Richmond and others. As Executive Vice President of McNichols and Associates, she served as technical advisor and development consultant for 27 facilities. A whiz with numbers, she relished putting together multimillion dollar financing deals and crafting facility budgets. A leader who always had time for everyone, Mary Elyn saw her staff as her company’s greatest resource and true heroes throughout the pandemic. Her two companies made a significant difference in the quality of life for the elderly.
As far as achievements, closest to her heart was the co-creation of the Amy Elizabeth Lauth Charitable Foundation. It allowed her to directly help those most in need. She always insisted that 100 percent of donations went directly to charity.
A source of boundless vitality, possibly the solution to our global energy needs, Mary Elyn never stopped moving. Family meant everything to her. Of course family included everybody she ever met. Birthdays, weddings, funerals, and reunions were not to be missed. “Showing up is important,” she always said. She was the matriarch, the chief of the family—always organizing everything and bringing everyone together. As Santa’s chief elf, Christmas was her special time of year, combining all her favorite things: family, faith, food, and giving. She loved gardening, decorating, travel, and reading. A night owl, she stayed up late wrapping presents, plowing through work, or reading a mindless romance or thriller. “Mindless is good,” she’d say, “Sometimes you need to turn your brain off.” Technically challenged, Mary Elyn didn’t use a computer, never successfully used call-waiting, and had numerous fights with Siri (the only fights she never won). Her greatest joy was spoiling her grandchildren. She firmly rejected any attempts to limit the endless stream of presents, candy, cookies, love, etc. She will be deeply missed.
In lieu of flowers, please consider donations to the Amy Elizabeth Lauth Charitable Foundation: 3333 Peters Creek Road, NW, Roanoke, Virginia 24019-2719.
A Mass of resurrection will be conducted at 12:30 pm, Monday, October 24, 2022 at Our Lady of Nazareth Roman Catholic Church, 2505 Electric Rd., Roanoke, VA 24018 with Msgr. Patrick Golden will officiate. Livestream available at https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=K8tqL7zXnW0 Burial will follow at St. Andrew’s Catholic Cemetery. The family will receive friends from 11 am to 12 pm prior to the Mass. Online condolences may be made at www.lotzfuneralhomeroanoke.com
Lotz Funeral Home-Roanoke is serving the family. 540-982-1001