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Former nun Mary Ann Petry dies; artist, student mentor was 94

Mary Ann Petry's artwork was exhibited at the

Mary Ann Petry's artwork was exhibited at the Frank and Gertrude Kaiser Art Gallery at Molloy College in 2016. Credit: Amityville Dominicans

Mary Ann Petry, a native of Floral Park and a longtime artist and educator, died in Gallup, New Mexico.

She was 94 years old.

Petry’s health declined rapidly after she came down with a cold, according to her niece Barbara Petry McVetty. She died Jan. 17 at Villa Guadalupe, an assisted living facility operated by the Little Sisters of the Poor.

“She was a wonderful person,” said Petry McVetty, of Riverhead. “She was so funny, so warm and loving. She was our favorite aunt on our father’s side of the family.”

Eileen Petry, the seventh of 10 children born to Joseph Petry and Frances Olinger Petry, attended Our Lady of Victory Elementary School and Sewanhaka High School, both in Floral Park. In 1942, she entered the convent of the Sisters of St. Dominic of Amityville, where she adopted a new name, Sister Mary Ann.

Petry taught art at Molloy College in Rockville Centre from 1962 to 1973, according to Larissa Woo, the school’s director of archives and records. She eventually became the art department’s faculty chairwoman.

Petry’s work was displayed at galleries and institutions across the metropolitan area, including Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, the Brooklyn Museum and Fordham University. Her paintings, woodcuts, etchings and lithographs were exhibited at the Frank and Gertrude Kaiser Art Gallery at Molloy during the spring of 2016.

“She was a mentor to many students at Molloy — organizing art exhibits and encouraging students to enter art related professions,” the school said in a release announcing the show.

Petry received a master’s degree in fine arts from Pratt Institute during the 1960s and received a PhD from New York University in August 1971, according to Woo.

Petry left the Sisters of St. Dominic in 1974.

She taught at SUNY-New Paltz before moving to Texas and Oregon. She ultimately settled in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where her sister Mary had moved years earlier. She continued to work as an artist and educator.

She is survived by 27 nieces and nephews. Her remains were cremated and interred in the Little Sisters cemetery in Gallup.

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