Mary L. Walk, 54, of Chester Springs, a social worker, died Thursday, June 6, of cancer at Neighborhood Hospice in West Chester, where she had worked for 10 years until retiring in December 2017.
Mrs. Walk fought a courageous battle with breast cancer starting in 2007, her family said. At the same time, she found her niche in end-of-life social work, and used her own health challenges to deepen her understanding of what her clients faced.
“I always admired that in her, because she had an unending grace about her and empathy, and was by all accounts fierce in fighting for the rights of her patients,” said her friend Carla Zambelli Mudry. “We both also shared breast cancer. As a breast cancer survivor, she was inspirational. She was so positive, and cancer just didn’t get her down.”
The daughter of Aldo and Ann McGuigan Polastri, Mrs. Walk was born and raised in Pittsfield, Mass. She graduated from North Adams State College in Massachusetts before earning a master’s degree in social work at Tulane University.
Her early and middle career were spent helping families whose loved ones were being treated at Brandywine Hospital and Trauma Center in Coatesville; handling adoptions through Catholic Social Services-Archdiocese of Philadelphia; and coordinating social services for patients at Bryn Mawr Hospital.
In the mid-2000s, when she joined the staff at the Neighborhood Hospice, she found the work rewarding.
“She never was uncomfortable with the process at the end of life,” said her husband, Karl “Kip” Walk. “She really enjoyed getting to know her clients, and would become quite fond of them and just felt a connection with them.”
The couple married in 1990, and raised three children in Chester Springs.
She enjoyed gardening, home decorating, and renovation, and spending time with family. She loved dogs and rescued seven over the years.
She achieved a lifelong goal in May when she traveled to Rome to visit the Vatican.
One of her favorite pastimes was spending weekends in St. Michaels, Md., where she owned a renovated 1890 home. Another favorite pastime was searching for rare finds at local antiques outlets.
“I loved watching as she found treasures for her home,” Mudry said. “We would each try to get to our favorite dealer, the Smithfield Barn, first when the vintage Christmas ornaments came out because we loved a lot of the same ornaments.”
Mrs. Walk was very clear in how she felt about things, yet never harsh. “She knew her own mind,” Mudry said. “She was also one of those people that you just felt better around. And she had this wonderful sense of humor and could make you laugh until your sides hurt.”
In addition to her husband and mother, Mrs. Walk is survived by daughters Taylor and Erin; a son, Thomas; two sisters; and two brothers.
A visitation from 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, June 11, at the James J. Terry Funeral Home, 736 E. Lancaster Ave., Downingtown, will be followed on Wednesday, June 12, by a visitation from 8:30 to 9:45 a.m. and then a 10 a.m. Funeral Mass, both at St. Elizabeth’s Catholic Church, 120 St. Elizabeth Dr., Chester Springs. Interment will be private.