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Marie Joan Lyons Killilea
Birth: Jun. 28, 1913
New York County (Manhattan)
New York, USA
Death: Oct. 23, 1991
Westchester County
New York, USA

Marie Lyons Killilea was 78 years old when she died of a respiratory ailment. She was the daughter of Tom and Marie Powers Lyons. She graduated from Mount St Vincent Academy in Riverdale. On July 25, 1933, she married James H. Killilea. Jimmy and Marie had 5 children together:
Marie,Kathryn Ann(who died at birth) Karen, James O'Rourke (Rory) and Kristin Rose. They also adopted Gloria Kyle in 1946.

In 1940,it was discovered that their infant daughter Karen suffered from cerebral palsy. Marie and Jimmy saw 23 top medical specialists in the U.S. and Canada, all of whom told them that Karen's case was hopeless. They said that Karen had no intellect, could never learn to walk or communicate with others. They urged the Killileas to put their baby in an institution.

The 24th doctor recognized Karen's intelligence and saw that she was aware of things around her. He put together a program of physical therapy and home teaching, which was unheard of at that time. With the tireless help of her family Karen proved the doctors wrong.

Marie became a fervent supporter of rights for Cerebral Palsy patients. Her tireless efforts culminated in the formation of the Cerebral Palsy Association of Westchester County. She later co-founded the National Cerebral Palsy Foundation and the Karen Foundation. Marie was also an active lobbyist in Albany for the rights of Cerebral Palsy sufferers. Marie was always breaking new ground for the handicapped. She fought and won the right for Karen to attend a regular school. She also encouraged Karen to raise and show champion showdogs, another breakthrough for the handicapped.

Marie was a devout Catholic and lived her religious tenets to the fullest. She was feisty and not afaid to speak her mind. A real survivor in the true sense of the word, Marie beat lung cancer twice.

An event which made her laugh very much was relayed to a reporter. On Jimmy and Marie's 50th wedding anniversary her children presented Jimmy a large bag with a card that read "You deserve this" Inside the bag was a halo.

In 1952, she wrote a book called "Karen" which was the story of her daughter Karen's struggle and triumph over Cerebral Palsy. The book won two Christopher awards and a Golden Book Award, was translated into many languages and has never been out of print. In 1963, she wrote a sequal called "With Love From Karen" which was also a best seller. She also wrote "Wren" which was a child's version of "Karen" as well as a book on Newfoundland dogs..

In 1991, Marie was survived by her husband James Killilea, her children: Marie Killilea Irish, Karen Killilea, Rory Killilea and Kristin Killlea Viltz, Her adopted daughter and son in law: Gloria Kyle Killilea Lea and Charles Russell Lea and six grandchildren and one great grandchild. She was preceeded in death by three grandchildren: Mary DeLourdes Lea and Evelyn Ann Lea (Gloria's daughters)and Michelle Smiley(little Marie's daughter)all of whom died in a house fire.

(1) one of the pictures is of the house known as "Sursum Corda" (Lift Up Your Hearts) where the Killileas lived in Larchmont.

Thank you to the United Cerebral Palsy Association-Parsley Org and the Killilea Fans Yahoo Group for their help. 
Family links: 
  James Hines Killilea (1911 - 1994)
  Gloria Alice Killilea Lea (1929 - 2001)*
*Calculated relationship
Cremated, Ashes given to family or friend.
Created by: Maspeth
Record added: Sep 21, 2007
Find A Grave Memorial# 21695331
Marie Joan <i>Lyons</i> Killilea
Added by: HWA
Marie Joan <i>Lyons</i> Killilea
Added by: Maspeth
Marie Joan <i>Lyons</i> Killilea
Added by: Maspeth
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 Added: Mar. 29, 2017

- Tangent
 Added: Mar. 3, 2017
Your books are now on kindle thereby starting a whole new audience for them they are wonderful and I have read them many many times Rest in Peace
- Joyce Sperling
 Added: Jun. 22, 2016
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