Thelma A. “Tolly” Pelych, of Hornell

HORNELL-Thelma A. “Tolly” Pelych, 95, of 27 Glen Avenue, Hornell, died Friday evening (August 27, 2021) at her home, surrounded by her loving family, following a “disagreement with old age.”

A native & life resident of Hornell, she was born April 13, 1926 and was the daughter of Gerald & Thelma (Thomas) McCarthy.

Tolly was a graduate of Hornell High School (class of 1944). For about 14 years she was employed as an office clerk in various departments of the former Erie Railroad and Erie Lackawanna Railroad. In November of 1966, she ran for and was elected to the position of Hornell City Chamberlain. She actually took office on January 1, 1967 and held the position until her retirement on December 31, 2011. On April 13, 2000 (her birthday) the City of Hornell honored her by naming the city building the Thelma A. Pelych Municipal Building.

Tolly served as president of the NYS Society of Finance Officers from 1977-1978 and later served as secretary of the NYS Society of Finance Officers from 1979-1997. She received the Distinguished Finance Officer’s Award in 1983. In 1993, Tolly was honored by the NYS Society of Finance Officers when they established the “Thelma A. Pelych Advancement Award” for continuing education for its members.

In 2006, Thelma was honored by the NYS Conference of Mayors with a plaque for 40 years of attendance of the Fall Training School. She received the Excellence in Financial Reporting Award from 1989 to retirement from the Government Finance Officers of United States & Canada.

She was one of the original founders of the Hornell Democratic Women’s Club and served as treasurer until 2012. Tolly served as Campaign Chairman for the Hornell Area United Way Fund Drive from 1985-1986 and was a member & Past President of the former Business & Professional Women’s Club.

Tolly was an avid fan of both the New York Yankee and the Buffalo Bills fan and was a Buffalo Bills season ticket holder for many years. She was also a die-hard Syracuse University Basketball Fan (she always said that she “BLEEDS ORANGE”) and also was a season ticket holder for many years. Tolly loved playing cards (especially euchre & pinochle) and enjoyed her trips to the casinos. She also enjoyed knitting and making beautiful sweaters & scarves for her family and friends.

Other hobbies & interests include working in her flower garden; reading; playing golf; working on crossword puzzles and working out on the bike at the YMCA. For 10 years Tolly volunteered her time at the LPGA Corning Classic and in 2012, served as Grand Marshall of the Hornell St. Patrick’s Day Parade. She was an active member of Maple City Sound from the beginning in 1988 where she served as Treasurer and Tabulator until her retirement in 2012.

She was a member of Our Lady of the Valley Parish and a communicant of St. Ann’s Church. Tolly was a member of the Ladies of Columbus, Hornell Elks Lodge where she served as treasurer for two years.

She was married in 1948 to Joseph M. Pelych who died July 22, 1966. She was also preceded in death by her daughter, Patricia Eicher who died March 11, 2002; 1 brother, Robert McCarthy who died in 1987; 1 sister, Rosemary Tuttle who died in 2012; her grandsons, Joseph Eicher who died in 2015 and Michael Pelych who died in 2019.

Surviving are her daughter, Kathleen “Kathy” Green of Hornell; 2 sons, Michael (Mary Jo Sullivan) Pelych of Hornell and Joseph (Susan) Pelych of Hornell; 1 brother, G. Thomas (Betty Ebert) McCarthy of Vienna, VA; 1 sister, Michele Lewis of Hornell; her sister-in-law, Joann McCarthy; 6 grandchildren, Lesley (Lai-Ting Torres) Green, Kelly (Isaac) Bancroft, Todd Eicher, Amy (Patrick) Pepples, Tom (Laura Keohane) Pelych, & Joe (Nicki Toro) Pelych; 5 great-grandchildren; several nieces & nephews.

The family of Thelma A. “Tolly” Pelych will receive friends on Thursday from 4:00 PM – 7:00 PM at the Dagon Funeral Home, 38 Church St., Hornell, NY. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Friday at 10:00 AM at St. Ann’s Church with burial in St. Mary’s Cemetery.

The Funeral Mass for Thelma “Tolly” Pelych will be streamed live and can be viewed on the Dagon Funeral Home Facebook page on Friday at 10:00 AM by visiting  The video will remain available for viewing on our Facebook page for 30 days.

Due to health concerns and compromised immune systems of several members of the Pelych family, friends who have not been vaccinated against Covid are kindly asked not to attend calling hours and everyone will be required to wear a mask. The family appreciates your understanding!!!

Tolly’s family request that memorial contributions in her name be made to the Hornell YMCA, 18 Center St., Hornell, NY 14843. Memorial forms will be available at the Dagon Funeral Home.

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