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Obituary: Mary Gildea

Gildea died Sunday, Jan. 19.

Mary Gildea. Photo credit: Brewitt Funeral Home
Mary Gildea. Photo credit: Brewitt Funeral Home
The following is from Brewitt Funeral Home.

Mary Bernadette (Barry) Gildea, 86, resident of Portsmouth, N.H. for 19 years, peacefully and naturally left this world on Sunday, Jan. 19, 2014, with children at her side.

She was born into large, closely knit Roman Catholic family in Belmont, the fourth of eight children to Henry Aloysius Barry and Marie Cecelia (Fitzgerald) Barry. She was educated by the same order of nuns who educated her entire mother’s family and where her aunt was a nun, so church, school and family were woven of the same cloth. She sang like a lark to her mother piano accompaniment with her sisters’ three-part harmony in their home.

A graduate of Boston’s Emmanuel College with an A.B. in pre-med Biology, class of 1949, she was proud to be the first in her family to attend college, going on to work as a laboratory technician at the Cancer Research laboratory at Jewish Memorial Hospital.

She married Robert Gildea in 1950 after meeting in his father’s choir, raising their children in Lexington. Their marriage lasted 30 years, their friendship for 65, during which she also assisted her blind computer scientist husband in reading, researching, letter writing and editing for his office and consulting projects to agencies for the blind. They opened their home to young foreign exchange students, forming lifelong bonds and they hosted their many relatives for 11 summers in a large beach house near Nantasket Beach.

They piled children and tents into a VW microbus every June and roamed New England, Canada and eventually out to Colorado, camping and loving nature. She was a seeker of knowledge, taking further classes in natural healing, herbs, wildflowers, drawing, painting, behavioral science, geography, ornithology, desert ecology, environmental education, psychology, nutrition, natural history, Native American, Mexican and Peruvian Studies.

She was Assistant Registrar and Curator of Exhibitions at the Fitchburg Art Museum. She was thrilled to have daughter Kit attend MassArt so she could make great use of Adult Ed classes and a specialized guided art tour in Mexico together.

After a two-year program of training for healers, she went on to become a Licensed Massage therapist in Boston and New Hampshire. Mary was on the staff at Repose Massage Therapy Center on Newbury Street in Boston, later at Gentle Currents Wellness Center in Greenland, N.H., as a certified Advanced Facial Rejuvenation and Reiki II Master-Practitioner.

Her holistic path also led to an awakening of a new spiritual life, becoming involved for a time with the Quakers, with the interfaith group the United Brotherhood Movement, and being accepted into the Unity Church. She and her close friends were often found volunteering their Reiki healing skills at Portsmouth Regional Hospital.

As a grandmother, she helped raise another generation while living in Arlington, always having a deep devotion to family. She traveled to Europe to be with a daughter and granddaughter frequently, to Turkey to be with her “adopted” family, to Mexico to be with close friends who “adopted” her own children, to Peru as a personal guest of friends she had hosted in her own apartment.

Always a storyteller, Mary also began composing poetry in her later years and finding a wonderful new community. She participated in the monthly Poetry Hoot open mic, she had some poems published to her absolute delight.

She laughed a lot. In her own words, “My soul yearns to tell me I am an artist - a poet - an angel of mercy, an overcomer of pain, of sorrow, of obstacles - a ponderer of mystery, a humorist, a naturalist, an eternal student, a friend, a Lover of...God, Jesus, of angels, of babies, of humanity, of Nature, of books, and music, and learning, and beauty in all its myriad ways of being. I am a watcher, - an observer, an interpreter of symbols and signs.”

Mary was predeceased by her sisters Anne Bullock of Franklin, and Francis Curry of Dedham. She is survived by siblings Stephen Barry and Marie of Peabody; Marguerite Sullivan and Roger of Hingham; Catherine Hooley and John of Las Cruces, N.M.; Louise Cronin of Milton. Mary leaves behind her children’s families: Michael and  Joyce Gildea of Westfield, Patricia Gildea of Cambridge, Kathleen and Mark Lord of Northwood, N.H., Aileen Gildea-Pyne and Rick Pyne of Arlington; her grandchildren: Bridget Gildea, Erin Hare, Katherine Lord, Joseph Gildea, Edward Gildea and Timothy Pyne, three great-grandchildren and many beloved nieces and nephews.

A private service for her extended family will be held on Saturday, Feb. 8. Donations are being accepted in Mary's honor made out to the Poetry Society of New Hampshire, with memo "Mary Gildea Memorial Fund," mailed to Gordon Lang, PSNH, 170 Browns Ridge Road, Ossipee, NH 03864. Please write to info@poetrysocietyofnewhampshire.org with questions. A public celebration of life picnic will be held on June 14, 2014, for Mary’s many friends at a Portsmouth area park by the sea. For more information, see www.brewittfuneralhome.com.
Aileen January 24, 2014 at 06:13 PM
Smooth waters, dear NanaMama.

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