Francis Aidan Surlis died February 5, 2023, at the age of eighty-nine. The family takes great comfort that Aidan died peacefully at home, surrounded by his loving family, and after 4 months and 4 days apart, he and his loving wife of fifty-one years, Catherine, are reunited for all eternity.
Aidan was born in Shroofe, County Sligo, Ireland on October 10, 1933 to Terence and Nora (nee Corcoran) Surlis. Aidan was the 9th of 11 children, and always shared a special bond with his twin sister, Sr. Phyllis Surlis. Aidan’s family was close, and their tight knit bonds continued throughout their lives.
In the spring of 1959, Aidan was ordained a Roman Catholic Priest and joined the St. Patrick’s Missionary Society. For the next ten years Aidan served the needs of the people of Kenya, Africa in the Diocese of Eldoret, the Archdiocese of Nairobi working in famine relief and establishing and running a school for those displaced by the famine. Aidan thoroughly appreciated his time in Kenya and he had a deep affection for the Kenyans he worked with. During this time Aidan learned to speak Swahili.
Although Aidan enjoyed and found fulfillment in his mission work in Kenya, he decided that he wanted to marry, and have a family of his own, and decided to leave the priesthood. Aidan left Africa bound for his next chapter, New York. While in New York Aidan taught high school and earned a Master’s Degree from Manhattan College in Theology and Philosophy.
It was in New York that Aidan met and fell in love with Catherine Henze; they married on July 5, 1971. As a newlywed, Aidan worked at the Queens Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (QSPCC). He found the work heartbreaking as he was experiencing firsthand the suffering of families in crisis. Aidan spoke of always doing the best he could to help families stay together.
Soon after they were married, Aidan and Catherine welcomed their three children to the world, Cathy, Aidan Jr., and Tara. While in New York, Aidan and Catherine embraced the opportunity to be a foster family to a young boy, Gerry.
In 1976, Aidan was invited by a family friend to Maryland to try his hand at real estate. Aidan took the opportunity, he and Catherine, their three young children, along with Catherine’s mother moved to Maryland to begin his real estate career and a new adventure.
Aidan was a natural in real estate, he loved helping people, and his business thrived. As they graduated college, Cathy, Aidan Jr. & Tara each joined Aidan in real estate and together they worked as ‘Team Surlis’. Later Cathy’s husband, Chris, and Tara’s husband, Tim, joined Team Surlis too. Aidan and Catherine made many life-long friends over his thirty plus years in real estate, and he especially loved his time working alongside his family.
Aidan worked full time into his early seventies, and as he began easing into retirement, his time on the golf course, with close friends and family, became his passion. For over a decade Aidan played three or four days a week, and it was never enough. Aidan thoroughly enjoyed countless wonderful days on the course, and never had a bad round (scores notwithstanding).
Of all the roles in his lifetime, Aidan always said his favorites were being a husband, father, and grandfather. He took great pride in each of his children, and he loved each of their partners, Chris, Mandy and Tim as his own. Becoming a grandfather in 2004 was a dream come true, Aidan cherished his ten grandchildren, and spent most of his time with them.
For over forty years Aidan and Catherine lived on Neumann Way, a house they built in 1980, and it was there they welcomed more family and friends than could be counted and hosted their legendary St. Patrick’s Day parties. Catherine and Aidan were the happiest with a full house, a delicious meal, and warm conversation.
Aidan was a joyful person with an infectious smile and twinkle in his eye; he loved people and he always wanted to help where he saw a need.
Aidan is predeceased by his wife, Catherine (nee Henze) and his siblings: Nan Noone, his brothers: John, Terence, Tommy Joe, Chris, Roland, Fr. Paul and infant brother, Philip Aidan. Aidan is survived by his twin sister, Sr. Phyllis Surlis (County Mayo, Ireland), sister, Carmel (nee Surlis) McCallan (County Wicklow, Ireland), children: Cathy (Chris) Gress, their children Jack, Tom and Kate Gress, Aidan (Mandy) Surlis, their children Ben, Penny and Sean Surlis, Tara (Tim) Kelly, Nora, Paul, Adele and Luke Kelly, as well as fifty-one nieces and nephews, many in-laws, and deeply loved friends.
If you would like to make a donation in Aidan’s memory, Aidan supported Haiti Outreach, care of Seton Parish. Or, Hospice of the Chesapeake is a tremendous resource and gave great support to Aidan and the family.
Funeral arrangements are as follows: The viewing will be Wednesday, February 15th, 2- 4pm and 6- 8pm at Beall Funeral Home (6512 NW Crain Hwy (Rt. 3 South), Bowie, MD, 20715. The funeral will be Thursday, February 16th, 11am at Saint Elizabeth Seton Parish (1800 Seton Drive, Crofton, MD 21114). The funeral will be live streamed at https://www.facebook.com/SetonLiveStream