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Obituary: Mary Jane McQuarrie, 80, Beloved Orange Teacher

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May 062020
 

Mary Jane (Janie) McQuarrie passed away unexpectedly at home on April 29, 2020. Born December 24, 1939, to Gordon and Florence (Mattson) McQuarrie, she lived most of her life in Thomaston and West Haven, CT.

A life-long learner, Mary Jane graduated from Thomaston High School and held B.S. and M.S. degrees in Education from SCSU and the University of Connecticut, earning a 6th-year diploma in Gifted and Talented Education. She was a beloved elementary school teacher for 35 years, in Oakville, Thomaston, and Frankfurt, Germany, retiring from the Orange, CT school system in 1996. She loved her students and they fondly remembered her.

Whether learning or teaching, Mary Jane’s colorful life had her living in Europe, backpacking Alaska, rafting the Colorado, studying Native Americans, or on safari in Africa. She was her happiest when experiencing a hot air balloon ride, enjoying an opera or symphony, visiting a museum, or having lunch with dear high school, college, or academic friends, all while wearing an appropriately crazy pair of earrings. She will be missed by her many cherished friends, especially her traveling companion and “sister,” Jackie.

Janie was a lifelong faithful Christian and practiced the principles of love, kindness, caring, compassion, gratitude, and service. She was an active member of the First Congregational Church of West Haven, tirelessly devoting her time through music, education, outreach, mission, and ministry. Her willingness to help others before herself will be missed throughout the congregation and the community.

Mary Jane was a 40-year member of Alcoholics Anonymous and was a devoted sponsor to many facing life’s challenges. Knowing that AA had saved her life, she was passionate and steadfast in her commitment to helping others find the same grace. Her love, encouragement, and willingness to listen and not judge, will be missed by all she sponsored and all who knew her in other capacities.

Through her enjoyment of life, she assembled a collection of her favorite things: beautiful books, angels, rainbows, Native American and African art, fanciful jewelry, classical music, and interesting wonderful friends. She loved children, loved to sing and play the piano and to send a gift or encouraging card, just because. She was an environmentalist, nature enthusiast, and lover of all animals, especially black cats.

She was a member of the Eastern Star, Pebbles Group, and countless professional and volunteer organizations and regularly supported them all with time and talent.

Having chosen not to be married or have children of her own, her nieces became one of her joys in life. She shared every aspect of her life with them, created experiences for them, did things with and for them and encouraged, inspired, and loved them unconditionally. They loved sharing holidays and special occasions together, but it was in the moments of every day that their bond of love was the most special.

Left to celebrate Mary Jane’s life, are her friends from all corners of the earth, her nieces and nephews, great-nieces and nephews, her sister in law, Norma, several cousins and her cat, Midnight. She was predeceased by her parents, brother Robert McQuarrie and sister Carolyn Sulek.
To honor Mary Jane’s memory: be a friend, find the good in people, make time to listen to others, have fun, laugh at yourself, find your passion, don’t be afraid to love someone, and in all situations, look for the rainbow.

It was Mary Jane’s wish to donate her body to science, but due to the pandemic, they were not accepting donations. A celebration of Mary Jane’s life will take place at a later date to be announced. To send notes of sympathy and comfort to Janie’s family please visit her tribute page at www.lyonsfuneralhome.com

Memorial contributions may be made to Alex’s Soup Kitchen c/o FCC of West Haven, 1 Church Street, West Haven, CT 06516