Sunday, 12 January 2014

Three woman and three deaths

As I browed the obituaries one day last week I read of the death of a woman in Naples FL, some 120 miles south of SRQ.  Her last name was sufficiently unusual that it "leapt out" at me.

I knew her.  I knew her late husband.  They lived very near me in a Massachusetts city where I was once a Rector.  They named themselves as Episcopalians, but I cannot remember ever seeing them in Church, not even for Easter or Christmas.

He was a businessman.  If you have heard of type A personalities, then know that he was an A super plus. He was demanding, imperious, rude and often angry.  His wife was not far behind in personality types.

Came the day that he died.  I was summoned to their condominium to discuss his "state funeral" in my parish.  As I drove to the condo I thought "what in heaven's name can I say about this man by way of eulogy. Will I have to lie through my teeth?"

I was let off the hook.  This was because Type A personalities have a way of arranging their verbal portraits.  For when I got to the home I was informed that the deceased's brother would give the eulogy.

"Alleluia" I thought, "there is a God in heaven".   So the brother eulogized very nicely, leaving me to talk about God.

The notice of the widow's death last week brought all this back  God rest her soul.


Many of you read last week of the sudden death on January 8th of our SRQ friend Catherine. Her death was an enormous shock, particularly because many of his had been her guests at a splendid New Year's Day brunch.

Her partner writes as follows: As most of you know by now, my partner and spouse Catherine Wieczorek, passed away suddenly in her home on Wed. Jan. 8. I am so overcome with grief, but I do appreciate your phone calls. It helps. After speaking with the doctor this morning who did the autopsy, Catherine had severely sclerotic and blocked arteries to her heart, aorta, and the arteries to her brain, the carotid, were 98 % blocked. She died peacefully in her sleep, probably from a stroke. She looked as if she was sleeping, so I am sure it was pain free. Please feel free to share this email with anyone I may have missed. And thank you for your prayers and condolences. Dennie

Somehow these findings from the autopsy give us a sense of clarity, but they do not mitigate our grief.


Mary Jane Gracely always sat in front of me at the 9:00 a.m. Eucharist at St. Boniface.  I also got to know her in  a small group at Church. She enriched my life.

Her obituary is printed below.  Of course I attended her funeral last Friday afternoon at 4:00, together with some 40 members of her family, and at least 80 parishioners who wanted to pray together such was their love for Mary Jane.

Mary Jane was extremely intelligent, and wonderfully wise. She was better at listening than talking (a rare enough gift!), but when she spoke those who listened to her were blessed.  She had a wonderfully graceful presence, and was never ever stuffy.

I remember that when I preached on Trinity Sunday back in 2009 (?) she greeted me at the door after the service. She said "Michael, I have heard many sermons on the Trinity down in Naples, and here in Sarasota.  But you are the first preacher I've ever heard who did not start the sermon with words such as "the Trinity is very difficult" or "I hate preaching on Trinity Sunday" or "I cannot explain the Trinity". Mary Jane continued "you dove into a Trinity Sunday sermon without apology, an I liked that".    A compliment indeed.

Better than that: -  Mary Jane in her 80's often wore a blue denim jacket with blue denim jeans. I once complimented her about this, for you have to be a damn cool octogenarian if you can wear blue denim and look fabulous!  She did.

God bless you Mary Jane Gracely.


Mary Jane's obituary as published in the newspapers.

Mary Jane (Llewellyn) Gracely, age 88, passed peacefully in her sleep December 30, 2013 in Sarasota, Florida. Mary Jane was the loving wife of the late William H. Gracely, whom she married October 14, 1950.

She was born to James and Daisy (Donithen) Llewellyn in Marion, Ohio. She graduated in 1943 as the valedictorian of her Marion - Harding High School senior class. She continued her education at Flora Stone Mather-Western Reserve in Cleveland, Ohio where she graduated in 1947 with a bachelor degree in teaching.

Mary Jane and Bill moved (pioneered) to Naples, Florida in 1958. Bill became the eighth practicing attorney at law in Naples. (*) Mary Jane was a long-time member of Trinity by the Cove Episcopal Church and served Christ in many capacities through the years. She loved playing and teaching Mahjong with her many friends in both Naples and Sarasota. She was an excellent cook and loved to bake and share her famous crumb cake and Penuche iced cup cakes during the holidays and for family celebrations.

Mary Jane lived her life with joy, grace and love for her Savior. She joins Bill and their daughter Sarah who preceded her.


From jmp again

 (*) There are probably at least 800 lawyers in Naples these days!

Mary Jane is survived by three children, seven grand children, and seven great grandchildren.

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