Mary Catherine Gore, a longtime Denver resident who mentored hundreds of people through their teen years—especially her children and grandchildren—passed away June 20, 2011 of natural causes. She was 84.

Not only was she the center of a constellation of children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, she also earned a college degree in her 40s in order to serve at-risk Denver youth as a court probation officer.

Known to friends and family as Marilou, Gore was well-regarded for her generosity, shown in massive piles of presents that each year swamped the Christmas tree, a rebellious side that loved to play poker and an unbreakable determination expressed late into her life of living independently.

She is survived by half-sister Clara Craddock of Pawhuska, Okla.; half-brother David Brofman of Deerfield, Ill.; half-sister Lynn Brofman of Minneapolis, Minn.; son George L. Gore, Jr. and wife Jennifer of Castle Rock, Colo.; daughter Marty Wilson of Greeley, Colo.; son David Gore and wife Cathy of Durango, Colo.; daughter Cynthia McCutchen and husband Mike of Aurora, Colo.; daughter Abbie McLain and husband Glen of Silverthorne, Colo.; daughter Laura Gore of Fort Collins, Colo.; daughter Mary Ashby and husband Mike of Nunn, Colo.; and daughter Rachel McIntyre of LaPorte, Colo.; as well as 15 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren.

She was born Mary Catherine Hazen in Pawhuska, Okla., on Aug. 22, 1926, to Leo Nelson Hazen and Marguerite Palmer Hazen. Her grandparents, John F. Palmer and Martha A. Plomondon Palmer, were original allottees in the 1906 Osage Nation enrollment act. Gore was proud of her Osage heritage and kept close ties to family and friends in Pawhuska long after she left.

Gore graduated in 1944 from Pawhuska High School and married her sweetheart, George L. Gore on Oct. 24, 1945, in Pawhuska. They lived in many places while he served in the Navy and attended college, but settled in Denver in 1954.

Education was a priority, and she sent all her children to Denver-area parochial schools. When her youngest child was in kindergarten, she enrolled in college courses in 1965. She completed her degree in sociology in 1972 at Metropolitan State College of Denver on the President’s Honor Roll.

She worked as a juvenile probation officer in northeast Denver for the Denver Juvenile Court System. A letter in her personal papers from a mother of a teen boy thanked Gore for her “firmness and understanding … making it possible for him to survive a very difficult time.”

Though she retired in 1992, Gore was very involved in raising her 15 grandchildren. She insisted on cramming her Park Hill home in Denver with people, food, gifts and love during the holidays.

“It is not difficult to say which area of my life is the most important to me,” she wrote in 1989. “It is my rather large family … These people are my life. They are the most wonderful people I have ever known. They are extremely close to each other and their parents.”

A Funeral Mass is scheduled for 10 a.m. Tuesday, June 28 at Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church, 4900 Montview Blvd., Denver. Burial details are pending.

Donations in lieu of gifts can be made to agencies serving at-risk Denver youth: Urban Peak, 720 21st St., Denver, CO 80205 or Denver Children’s Advocacy Center, 2149 Federal Blvd., Denver, CO 80211. Donations may also be sent to Pathways Hospice, 305 Carpenter Road, Fort Collins, CO 80525 or the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America.