Irish devoted herself to her family and philanthropy, focusing particularly on education.
She and her husband of 38 years had homes in New York City and in Plano, where their two daughters and two grandchildren live.
"Families relocate often in the newspaper business," Jeff Cohen, editor of the Houston Chronicle and a family friend, told Hearst Newspapers. "Mary embraced the challenge each time. She became involved in the community and always developed a wide circle of interesting friends."
Born to German parents in what is now the Czech Republic, she immigrated with them to the United States. They made their home in Fremont, Ohio. She married Irish there and later endowed a scholarship in her parents' name at her alma mater, St. Joseph Catholic High School.
"Mary had a compassionate heart for others who didn't have the financial ability to attend a Catholic school," said Kathy Boukissen, the school's director of development.
Survivors also include two brothers.
By: (AP) Mary Rettig Irish, a philanthropist and wife of Hearst Newspapers President George B. Irish, died Sunday after a lengthy battle with cancer. She was 59.