Marie Gregg Memorial Reflection

Written and Read By Jenny Gregg

We’re here today to honor the life and memory of my grandmother, Marie Nielsen Gregg.

As you read in the program, her heritage was Danish and she grew up in rural Florida as one of 8 children. She graduated from high school at the start of the Great Depression and found employment as a governess, taking care of 3 children.

In 1933 Marie and her sister Christine visited their brother Chris in Chicago to attend the World’s Fair. Marie stayed in Chicago and after various jobs, decided to become a beautician. During that time she met her future husband Robert Lee Gregg. After dating for 3 years, they were married at her in-laws home November 20, 1937.

Their first child Robert was born on December 22, 1941, followed by their daughter Marie on April 28, 1943. She remained a stay-at-home mom during the children’s early years but later returned to full-time beautician work.

After seeing Robert and Marie through college and well-launched on lives of their own, she moved with Robert to Florida with the hope that the warmer weather would improve his health. Sadly, it did not and he died there four years later in 1973.

Marie remained in Florida where 3 brothers and a sister lived close by. While she continued working as a beautician she spent 3-4 months every summer visiting with my family and Aunt Ree or we vacationed with grandma in Florida.

Her greatest pleasure was being a grandmother. She was a very special person in our lives. She gave us unqualified love and always found ways to do special things for us. One year she asked Robby and me for our Christmas list. We carefully went through a Sears catalog and our mother listed everything we wanted, thinking grandma would pick out something for each of us. To our parents surprise and our delight she bought us everything on the list.

Being on her own most of the year gave grandma the opportunity to pursue her other passion. At the age of 60 she took up knitting, which became the challenge of her life. With help from friends and customers at the beauty shop where she worked, she developed her skills. She produced beautiful sweaters for the family as well a voluminous output of Afghans, and stuffed animals. Many people, family and friends, and especially children were the beneficiaries of her beautiful creations. Even the family dogs had their own Afghans!

In 1986, now 74, grandma moved to Chicago to live with Aunt Ree in suburban Glencoe Illinois. She delighted in keeping house, baking rum cakes, taking care of the dogs, (and Aunt Ree of course), and doing the yard work. She even cut the grass till she was 85! She became a good friend to neighborhood children, especially Andy who lived next door.

Aunt Ree and Grandma spent Thanksgivings and Christmas’s with grandma’s niece, Joannie, and her large extended family providing all the deserts for the large dinners. Grandma worked all year on knitting winter hats and mittens, Afghans and stuffed toys for all the children.

When Aunt Ree retired early in 1998, they were able to enjoy several relaxing years in Glencoe. Both Maries moved to Silver Springs Village in November 2003, to be closer to our family: my father and mother Robert, and Susan, my brother Robby and his family: his wife Julie and Alyssa, the great-granddaughter.

During the past three years, Grandma was in a state of declining health. She remained indoors and her greatest treats were holidays, birthdays, and weekend breakfasts with her family. And, of course, she continued knitting!

In December she developed shingles on her face and eye, a condition, which was severe, very painful and difficult to treat. On January 2nd hospice assisted Aunt Ree in the care program. However, grandma’s health continued to decline, and she died peacefully in her sleep on the morning of Saturday, February 17th

For all who knew her, my grandmother was a good, kind and loving person, devoted to her family. While we will always miss her, our lives are filled with great memories, funny stories to be told when we’re together—and enough Afghans to last our lifetime! We have all been blessed by her life and she will live in our hearts forever.