Mary Joan ‘MJ’ Kevlin, 59; Co-Publisher Of Freeman’s Journal, Hometown Oneonta


Mary Joan ‘MJ’ Kevlin, 59;

Co-Publisher Of Newspapers

MJ Kevlin and Kyla.

COOPERSTOWN – Mary Joan “MJ” Kevlin, co-publisher of The Freeman’s Journal, Hometown Oneonta and for the past 11 years, passed away Friday, June 16, 2017, at Bassett Hospital.  She was 59, and had been struggling with cancer since October 2014.

MJ was born on April 19, 1958, in Endwell, to Joseph W. and Joan (Gaffney) Simmons, and was raised in Lafayette Hill, Pa.  She graduated from La Salle University in 1979 and received a master’s in historic preservation planning from Cornell University in 1981.

As a planner for Jefferson County in Watertown, she met her future husband, Jim, who was an editor at The Watertown Daily Times.  They married on June 25, 1983, at Our Mother of Consolation Church in Chestnut Hill, Pa.

She soon became Watertown’s first city planner, and administered the process that led to construction of 800 units of military housing in the city during the expansion of Fort Drum.  She also obtained funding to begin the restoration of the city’s Frederick Law Olmsted park.  Her successes brought additional responsibilities into her portfolio:  For a time, she managed the city airport and the Thompson Park Zoo.

In the 1990s, she and her husband moved to Buffalo, then Pottsville, Pa., where she continued to pursue her professional interests.  She served as executive director of the Pennsylvania Downtown Center, moving the organization from Bloomsburg to Harrisburg to ensure a firmer foundation for its future.  She was vice chair of the Pottsville Area Development Corp. board, and was particularly interested in the redevelopment of a rare reverse-screen nickelodeon into the Majestic Theater, a community performing arts center.  For several years, she taught the historic survey course in Cornell University­­­’s Department of City & Regional Planning, documenting the architectural significance of such communities as Binghamton’s Abel Bennett location, that city’s first “streetcar suburb” and neighborhood of former state Senate Majority Leader Warren Anderson.

In 2006, then in Norwich, Conn., she and her husband purchased Cooperstown’s Freeman’s Journal, founded in 1808 by William Cooper, village founder and father of James Fenimore Cooper.  A wordsmith, MJ coined the company name, Iron String Press, from Emerson’s, “Trust thyself: Every heart vibrates to that iron string.” Her husband focused on the editorial side, while she ensured the smooth operation of the company through the founding of Hometown Oneonta in 2008 and the expansion of in 2015.

Locally, she served on the Cooperstown Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors and, currently, on the board of the Greater Oneonta Historical Society.

In addition to her husband, James C. Kevlin, she is survived by two sons, Joseph J. Kevlin of Tempe, Ariz., and John C. Kevlin, his wife Meghan Burke and their daughter Kyla, of Oakland, Calif.; two sisters, Anne Lacey and her husband, Matthew, of Exton, Pa., and Karen Rylant and her husband, Keith, of Florence, Ala.; three Lacey nieces, Caitlin (David) Durkin, Anna (Ted) Hooven, and Tara (Kevin) Bogan, all of the Philadelphia area, and two Rylant nieces, Katherine and Caroline, both at the University of Alabama.

She was predeceased by her parents.

Calling hours are at 6 p.m. Thursday, June 22, at the Connell, Dow & Deysenroth Funeral Home, 82 Chestnut St., Cooperstown, followed by a service at 7 p.m. at the funeral home, with the Rev. Tom LeBeau, pastor, Cooperstown United Methodist Church, officiating.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Oneonta Corps, The Salvation Army, c/o Salvation Army Processing Center, Box 16310, Albany NY 12212-6310.  (Each Christmas for the past decade, MJ administered the newspapers’ Angel Tree Fund, providing gifts for needy children.)

Arrangements are entrusted to the Connell, Dow & Deysenroth Funeral Home.

17 thoughts on “Mary Joan ‘MJ’ Kevlin, 59; Co-Publisher Of Freeman’s Journal, Hometown Oneonta

  1. Donna Anderson

    Mr. Kevlin I am so sorry to hear about the passing of your wife. You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers

  2. James Dean

    I was so saddened to learn of Mary Jo’s passing.
    She was a bright and cheerful presence whenever I stopped by your office.
    I am sure that you have lost your best friend and confidant.
    You and Mary Jo have contributed greatly to the daily life of many, many people in Otsego County. I am sure that you will continue, but it will not be the same.
    Our sympathy to you and your family,

    Jim and Eileen Dean

  3. Gary Herzig

    I am so very sorry to learn of MJ’s passing. An unimaginable loss for you and the community of which she cared greatly.

  4. Anonymous

    There was no one quite like MJ. She was very special,to me and wished we could have spent more time together. I will truly miss her.

  5. Adrian Kuzminski

    I too am very sorry to hear about MJ’s passing. I had no idea she was ill. Her accomplishments in a short lifetime were impressive. Jim, she obviously cannot be replaced. I hope, though, that you can get the help you need to keep the paper going. Condolences and best wishes.

  6. Chip Northrup


    What a great gal she was and what a blessing to the community. You were lucky to have known her, and she was lucky in you. So here’s to that friend.



  7. Ashok and Linda Malhotra

    Hi Jim,
    When some one so intimate to you goes away, she takes away something very precious between two of you. But at the same time she leaves behind all those great memories of wonderful times you had together. Please keep doing the good work she started with you. This way she will be with you rest of your life.
    We are sorry to hear about her passing. Mary Jo’s spirit will be continuosly felt in the AllOtsego paper.

  8. Paul Scheele

    Oh, Jim! How that must hurt. Now, too late, of course, how I wish I had gotten to know Mary Jo better. She was apparently a real force, and that force will be missed by many of us. I offer you our deep sympathy.

  9. larry bennett

    I’m so sorry to hear of Mary Joe’s passing. She was a bright spark of light in our world, and she will be missed. My sympathy and condolences to you and all of your family.
    Larry Bennett

  10. Marjorie M Landers

    Jim. All of your fellow Cooperstown Rotarians are saddened to learn of MJ’s passing. Please know that your Rotary family supports you now and in the future. You and your family are in our hearts and prayers.
    Marjorie Landers, President
    Cooperstown Rotary

  11. Henry & Joan Nicols

    Jim & Family, I am teaching in Mexico and will not be home for another week. Sadly I will miss Mary Jo’s service and remembrances. Please know that our community, my family and I share in your loss! Deepest Sympathy from us to you! Hank & Joan Nicols

  12. Anonymous

    Jim, share your deepest feelings with God. You are in my thoughts & prayers, peace. Barbara Cadwell

  13. kathryn belous-boyle

    for Jim Kevlin –

    I know, I understand, and I feel your loss. Last month my beloved Roberrr passed away. I was married to amazement and now he is gone. It is unbearable. I wish you strength and wisdom to find your place in the universe without the one who was your universe. I am still bewildered and struggling and do not have a roadmap but trust your journey to “that place” will be swift and successful.


    Katya Belous-Boyle

  14. Kathy Nolan and Dick Conley

    Jamie, we are so sorry to hear about Mary Jo–you and yourboys are in our thoughts! Dick and I were in Ireland and did not find out until a few days ago!

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