Mary Dineen was known for taking a very public interest in helping people: her patients during a long nursing career and her fellow Center Moriches residents in many years as a religious and civic volunteer. She died Saturday night after a long illness. She was 82.

The former Mary Burke was born in the Bronx and lived in Elmhurst while she studied nursing at St. Mary's Hospital in Brooklyn, then began working at Wyckoff Heights Medical Center, also in Brooklyn.

After she married and moved to Center Moriches in 1964, she was assistant director of nursing at Bayview Hospital in Mastic Beach, served as school nurse at William Floyd High School and worked at Brookhaven Memorial Hospital in East Patchogue, as well as doctors' offices and home health care services.

Her husband of 57 years, Jim, said that she kept working until 2005, when she retired as supervisor at the John J. Foley Skilled Nursing Facility in Yaphank.

She was all business when she had to be, having earned a reputation for knowing which students came to the nurse's office as a way out of class. "I picked up a kid hitchhiking once and he said he went to William Floyd. I asked him about the school nurse and he said, 'You've got to have appendicitis before she sends you home,' " her husband said.

But people in her care came to know she had their best interests at heart. She told of having been pulled over by a police officer, who jokingly said he was getting even for the way she once lectured him about his weight before he went out for football.

"And she was the nurse on the block. Any time a kid cut himself, he would come to Mrs. Dineen," her husband said.

He added that one of her proudest moments in recent years came when her parish, St. John the Evangelist in Center Moriches, presented her the Mother Seton Award for more than three decades of volunteering in religious education. She also was an associate director of the Moriches Bay Civic Association.

Along with her husband, she is survived by sons Brian of Hampton Bays and Rory of Brooklyn; a daughter, Marigrace of Manhattan; a sister, Margaret Carroll of Brentwood; a brother, Martin Burke of Washington, D.C., and one grandchild.

Viewing will be Thursday from 2 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. at Sinnicksons Moriches Funeral Home, Center Moriches. A funeral Mass will be said Friday at 9:30 a.m. at St. John's R.C. Church. The family has asked that donations be sent to Brookhaven Memorial Hospital Hospice.

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