Marilyn Quinlan of Salisbury, Massachusetts (formerly Newburyport, MA) died peacefully on Saturday October 24, 2020. She was born on January 30, 1932 in Lawrence, MA. She was eighty-eight years young.
Marilyn met the love of her life, Paul Quinlan, at the age of sixteen at the Paramount Theater in Lawrence, Massachusetts. They were married on October 26, 1948. They moved to Newburyport in 1963, where they raised their seven children.
Marilyn attended high school at St. Mary’s in Lawrence and continued to achieve a higher education degree in social work which she utilized as a social worker for her time at Community Action in Newburyport. While at Community Action, she assisted countless families and children. Her dedication to helping people earned her the position of Director of Council on Aging in Newburyport – a post she worked at for twenty-five years. In addition to her occupation, she was a fervent volunteer for organizations committed to supporting the community like the Salvation Army. Upon retirement, she received an award from the mayor of Newburyport for her unparalleled devotion and service to the city she called home for many years.
Marilyn’s unceasing joy was her family. Her most important job was being a mother. Marilyn’s treasure was her children and embraced every moment with them. Her pride came from her children’s successes and happiness as they transformed from children, to young adults, and to contributing to society and having families of their own.
She was a woman with strong faith, which interlaced with her Irish Catholic personage, earning her the endearing title of “Pope Marilyn” and she wore this name well. Many people would turn to Marilyn for advice because to everyone, she was the voice of reason – the light in the dark and she lived by this service until the day she passed. She became a lifelong friend to anyone she met and treated them with empathy and kindness. Even a stranger, she would be kind to… you would think she might have known a stranger her whole life. That was how powerful her sense of love and friendship was. “Pope Marilyn” fit well with her in every way.
She was “Mom” to her children and “Little Goona” and “Little Dewey” to her grandchildren and great-grandchildren, whom she adored with all her heart. She had endless love for them and showed this love by her actions and her proven wisdom around the importance of community service and humanitarianism.
Photographs tell stories. Each individual one captures a moment in time, in our lives, that we can hold on to forever. They are single seconds frozen in moments of smiles, memories of accomplishments, and places we’ve felt safe. They are tangible pieces of what we cherish most. For Marilyn, these moments were always with family. When people visited her home, the first thing she would show them was her “wall of fame” – a long wall harboring the years of memories captured in photographs. For every life milestone, there is a picture. The wall illustrates weddings, new great-grandchildren, and vacations. It tells of triumphs in sporting events, fun with friends, and conversations with loved-ones. Having been observers to this wall for many years, her family cannot imagine what a bare wall might have looked like in its infancy. This wall is her memory book and this wall is her pride, her love, and devotion to her family. It is safe to say, she has collected her whole life on that wall.
Marilyn loved listening to music, but no one made her adore this pastime more than Frank Sinatra. She would often be heard singing the lyrics to “My Way” by Ol’ Blue Eyes. Timeless music belonged to such a timeless person as Marilyn and time never worked against her. She was never defeated by aging mainly because it wasn’t a concept that existed for her. In fact, she welcomed the process of life like new opportunities like when she was awarded a black belt some years back, an honor she never hesitated to tell people and this also built into her outstanding sense of humor and joy.
If she was asked every year what her biggest accomplishment in life was, she would respond with “her family”. If she was asked yesterday, she would say the same thing. Family is the one constant in many people’s lives and this could not have been more true for Marilyn. As the matriarch of the family, her compassion and enthusiasm for life will forever be engraved in the hearts and souls of her family and friends.
Marilyn believed in the power of God and the existence of angels. She believed that God sent visitors from Heaven in the form of cardinals. Well, a few years ago, she gained a new angel in her life, her loving husband, Paul. Paul never left her. In fact, a cardinal frequented her neighborhood quite often, reminding her that he’s watching over her until it became her time to join him in Heaven. It was said that as Marilyn’s long, blessed, amazing life was coming to a close, a cardinal was gliding by her window where she rested. It might have been Paul coming to reunite with her once again.
Marilyn will join her loving husband Paul Quinlan who died March 18, 2017. Marilyn is survived by her children, Cathy and (Larry) Harvey; Gary and (Constance) Quinlan; Kristine and (Wayne) Harrison; Mark Quinlan; Neil Quinlan and (Barbaranne); Kerry and (Maureen) Quinlan and Colleen and (James) Poulin; Grandchildren: Jennifer, Jaime, Joshua, Jill, Michael, Greg, John, Nicholas, Katie, Jenna, Cathleen and Hailee; 14 great grandchildren and many nieces and nephews. Marilyn was preceded by her brother Luke and her parents Luke Harward and Catherine Harward.
We would like to offer our sincere thanks and gratitude to the amazing staff of Whittier Rehabilitation Hospital in Bradford, Ma, the home health care workers from All Care Home Health Services who gave such amazing care to our Mom and the Salisbury Fire Department.
Services and burial will be private. The Twomey, LeBlanc, & Conte Funeral Home 193 High St. Newburyport, MA 01950 is assisting Mrs. Quinlan’s family with her funeral arrangements.
An expression of sympathy memorial donations may be made to MSPCA’s Nevins Farm in Methuen, Massachusetts or Newburyport Salvation Army.
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