Mary Catherine Ferris, known to her family and friends as "Mary C.", came to Oro Valley in 1986, by way of Boston, by way of Madrid, Spain, by way of Goose Bay, Labrador, by way of St. Paul, Minnesota-- and a few other places in between.\n\nOver her 88 years, Mary quenched again and again her thirst for world travel, thanks not only to her husband's work in the hospitality industry but the career she held herself before their marriage: as a flight nurse in the U.S. Air Force.\n\nDuring her nine years in the military, Mary served stateside and overseas, achieved her goal of being a flight nurse, and, with her wings, tended to wounded special forces men in the early days of America's involvement in the Vietnam War."I think I owe the Air Force more than the Air Force owes me because I had a wonderful, wonderful time," she said. "I loved it."\n\nOn the lighter side, she took advantage of the "hops" the Air Force made available, seeing Hong Kong, Thailand and Hawaii. While serving in Japan, she climbed Mount Fuji. Travel opportunities spurred her to join the military and decades later remain among her fondest memories.\n\nIt started in 1954, when Mary was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Air Force. She had earned her bachelor's degree in nursing three years prior from the College of St. Catherine, now St. Catherine University, in her hometown of St. Paul and worked at a civilian hospital at first. But she was an adventurous and spirited young woman. She wanted to see the world, meet new people, and find out more about herself, having grown up as an only child."Growing up, I was given a lot of love and a lot of care and got so much attention that I kind of wanted to go out and see what I could do on my own," she said.\n\nImpressed by a cousin who was an officer in the Air National Guard, Mary, at age 24, moved over to the military. She had assignments in California and Japan before switching to a reserve unit in 1955. While a reservist, she used the GI Bill to earn her master's degree in nursing education from St. Louis University, earned her captaincy, and secured a coveted flight school slot. She went back into active duty with plans to be a career flight nurse and hopes to be stationed in Spain.\n\nThe Air Force sent her to Goose Bay, Labrador, Canada instead.\n\nThe Canadian assignment could hardly be considered a disappointment, though. That's where she met her husband, Manny Ferris, at that time a civilian recreational director for the base. After she served with an air evac squadron at Itazuke Air Force Base on the southern Japanese island of Kyushu, Mary and Manny married and Mary resigned her commission-- in the early 1960s, married women who planned to have children had to leave the service.\n\nShe stayed connected to the Air Force through Manny, whose next assignment was Torrejon Air Base outside of Madrid--granting Mary her wish to live in Spain.\n\nThis is where she had the first of the couple's four daughters. The growing family also lived in Winnipeg, Canada before Manny went to work for a small hotel chain out of Boston, where they made a home for many years. Eventually, Manny went to work for Sheraton.\n\nThe Ferrises first came to Oro Valley in 1982 for the opening of a property Manny developed for the hotel giant: the Sheraton (now Hilton) El Conquistador. By 1986 they were living in Oro Valley permanently. At that time, Mary noted, cattle moseyed onto Tangerine Road.\n\nMary and Manny moved into an apartment at Splendido in 2007, where they were charter members. Mary kept active with volunteering and bridge, amongst other activities.She is survived by her husband of 56 years, Manny Ferris (Oro Valley, AZ), her daughters Teresa and her 2 children - Niyah and Kali (Chicago, IL); Cathy and her husband Mike Brennan and their 4 children - Ferris, Clare, Jimmy and Aila (Chicago, IL); PJ and her husband, Nick Tippenhauer (Newport, KY); Maureen and her husband, Greg Prindeville (Kingston, MA).A Memorial Mass will be will be held on Saturday, November 17th, at 9am at St. Mark's Catholic Church in Oro Valley, AZ (will take place in the chapel) officiated by Fr. John P. Arnold. Mary C loved bright colors so feel free to wear them to the Mass as we CELEBRATE her life! A private burial to follow the Mass.