Mary RemalOctober 17, 1925 ~ March 28, 2017 (age 91)
Mary Margaret (Murchie) Remal, 91, a master quilter, mother and mentor to many, died of heart failure Tuesday, March 28, 2017, at her home in Fitchburg after battling illness for more than a month.
She was the daughter of Daniel and Ella (Bryant) Murchie, and the widow of Axel Joel Remal, Jr., who died in 1992.
Born on Oct. 17, 1925, in Springfield, Vt., she first moved as a young girl with her family to Orange, Mass., and then on to Fitchburg, where she lived the majority of her life.
Mary grew up in the depths of the Great Depression and during World War II, experiences which influenced and shaped her entire life and the lessons she taught her children. She graduated from Fitchburg High School in 1943. The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor was broadcast during the celebration of her parents' 25th wedding anniversary on Dec. 7, 1941, knowing that their three sons would surely be swept up in the winds of war.
She married Axel Remal, Jr., when he returned from his service during World War II in the South Pacific as crew chief of Marine Corps Fighter Squadron VMF-114. They began a family in1950. Mary raised her children and served as a leader in both Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts while her children were involved. She also was active in a range of capacities at Christ Church in Fitchburg, supporting her children in the church choir, the Acolytes Guild and youth group activities, as well as serving to prepare church suppers and working with the parish clothing charity. Mary went to work as a supermarket cashier during the 1970s to help support her children's college educations.
She was a centerpiece of her extended families, both on her own side and in her husband's family.
Mary devoted a significant part of her life to caring for others. After raising her own children and helping as an attentive grandmother, she moved in to care for her mother-in-law, Hilda Remal, in her Lunenburg home for as long as possible. Later, in her 80s, Mary worked hard to ensure her older brother, Everett Murchie, was able to remain at his Fitchburg home until his death, and later did the same for her brother-in-law, Harry Wiitala, the husband of her younger sister and best friend, Jean (Murchie) Wiitala, who had died earlier.
Mary was active and self-sufficient in the same home in which she had lived for more than 60 years until her illness last month. She was a person sought out for her wisdom and guidance and would often say with a wry smile that she had not had the opportunity for advanced studies but was proud of her commonsense, which she found to be a rare commodity.
Taught by her mother, Mary was a skilled seamstress who practiced her art throughout her life to the benefit of her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and the many who knew her. Her handmade quilts are legendary and cherished gifts to nearly every member of her extended families, usually as wedding gifts, although she downplayed her skills. Her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren all grew up sleeping beneath her creations.
As recently as the summer of 2016, she traveled for the second time to Pennsylvania to see the works of many Amish quilters and visit with some of that region's talented seamstresses while also visiting her youngest grandchild in Philadelphia. Mary's quilts will be treasured remembrances of her wonderful and generous life for decades and decades to come.
Hampton Beach has long been the emotional center for the Remal family, and while Mary did not always share that enthusiasm, she made sure to continue those traditions for at least three generations beyond her own, and we will forever love her for that gift.
Mary is survived by her three children, Eric S. Remal of Fitchburg and his wife Elizabeth; Lisa J. Remal of Salt Lake City, Utah; and Gary J. Remal of Freeport, Maine, and his wife Kathleen Jalbert-Remal; her grandchildren, Nicole (Remal) Kasputis of Sutton and her husband Ryan; Ehren A.G. Remal of Philadelphia, Pa., and his wife Eleni; and Colin J. Remal of Boston and his partner Dr. Danielle O'Rourke-Suchoff, MD; her great-granddaughters Lilly, Claire and Hannah Kasputis of Sutton, and her great-grandson Peter Remal of Philadelphia; her cousin and dear lifelong friend Joyce Hill of Springfield, Vt.; her brother-in-law Robert Remal of Fitchburg and his wife Priscilla; her beloved neighbors and friends, the Robichaud family and the Berberian family; and many friends, nieces, nephews and their children.
Mary's children would like to acknowledge the care and professionalism of Dr. Raymond Wolejko, whose efforts extended her life and kept her healthy and active for many years despite multiple health problems, as well as to thank the nurses, CNAs and health aides at Leominster hospital for their gentle and knowledgeable care of our mother in the closing weeks of her life.
Her funeral is scheduled to be held at 11 a.m. Friday at Christ Church Episcopal, 569 Main St., Fitchburg. Friends may visit before the service at the church at 10 a.m. Friday.