Marjorie Barton Rooney, widow of former NHP-GCP Superintendent of Schools Thomas G. Rooney, obituary

The Island Now

Marjorie Barton Rooney, widow of former New Hyde Park-Garden City Park School Superintendent Thomas G. Rooney, passed away on Oct. 21. She was 94 and still lived in New Hyde Park.

A native of Plattsburgh, NY, Marjorie was the youngest of the four children of Aethel Dodge Barton and Dr. Lyman Guy Barton Jr. Dr. Barton was the third of five Barton family doctors in northern New York and delivered all of his children and many of the residents of Plattsburgh, including his daughter Marjorie’s future husband.

Members of the Barton family were among the early settlers of the Massachusetts Bay Colony in the early 1600s. Their family tree includes Rebecca Nurse, who was hanged as a witch at the Salem Witch Trials; Clara Barton, the founder of the American Red Cross; and former U.S. President James Buchanan, who Marjorie liked to say is now no longer considered the worst president in U.S. history.

Marjorie was one of the first test recipients of penicillin, which saved her life as she battled rheumatic fever in the early 1940s.

Following her recovery, Marjorie was determined to attain her goals of learning to fly a plane and obtaining her pilot’s license, despite the opposition of her family and the fact that very few women flew at the time.

By the time her father discovered what she had done (because he saw the family car parked at the airstrip and a seaplane in the air), she was too close to obtaining her license to be stopped.

She flew until she showed up nine months pregnant for her renewal exam and the horrified instructor refused to allow her to get in the plane.

She was a graduate of Plattsburgh State Teachers College (now SUNY Plattsburgh), where she met Tom. Before marrying, Marjorie, who wanted to experience an independent life before settling down, moved alone to New York City and worked at the Doubleday Book Shop for a year.

The Rooneys were married in 1949 and returned to the city while Tom was studying at New York University.

It was then that Tom, in order to furnish the small studio apartment they shared with their first child on a very limited budget, learned woodworking and built their furniture, which he continued to do for all of their married life.

After moving to Croton Heights, where they lived for several years, the Rooneys relocated to New Hyde Park, where Dr. Thomas Rooney served as the New Hyde Park-Garden City Park superintendent of schools.

Mrs. Rooney taught elementary school for many years and eventually served as principal of Transfiguration Parish Day School in Freeport until 1983. After retiring as an educator, she developed a second career as a real estate agent.

While never one to be the center of attention, those closest to Marjorie are well acquainted with her subtle sense of humor, her blunt political commentary, competitive Scrabble style, love of the New York Times crossword puzzle, and deep respect for the cocktail hour.

In her mind, her children were perfect, and her grandchildren more so. She loved cheering on the University of Notre Dame football team and the University of Dayton basketball team, though if they were winning by too much, she would feel sorry for the opposing players.

Marjorie was a devoted member of St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church in West Hempstead, NY where she enjoyed singing in the choir, attending Bible Study, providing unsolicited sermon reviews, and studiously avoiding any clubs involving sewing or cooking.

In addition to her parents, Mrs. Rooney is predeceased by her husband of 52 years, who passed away in 2001, her beloved son John Barton Rooney of Mount Desert Island, Maine, who passed away in 2018, and by her siblings Lyman Guy Barton III, Eleanor Dodge Barton, and John D. Barton.

Marjorie will be greatly missed by her daughter Eleanor Poppe of Garden City South, her son Thomas Rooney Jr. of Gettysburg, PA, her grandchildren Frank Thomas Poppe of Washington, DC, Grace Barton Poppe of Astoria, Queens, and Sarah Crilley and her husband Bradley Crilley of Monument, Colorado, as well as many dear friends and extended family members.

In lieu of funeral services at this time, the family is respecting Marjorie’s wishes to “Tell everyone to just stay home and stay safe.” Future arrangements will be announced at a later date.

Contributions may be made in Mrs. Rooney’s memory to the food pantry of the N.Y. Race Track Chaplaincy at Belmont Park. (

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