Marlene ‘MJ’ Whitacre, free spirit with a loving heart, dies at 78

Marlene 'MJ' Whitacre

Marlene ‘MJ’ Whitacre

©2016 Telegraph Publishing LLC

Marlene J. Whitacre, who lived in both Grafton and Ocala, Fla., died quietly on April 16, 2016, surrounded by her loving family. At the time of her death, she had moved to Pennsylvania to live with family. She was 78.

Ms. Whitacre is survived by her niece, Karrah Kightlinger-Bieniek and her great niece Lindsay Marlene Kightlinger and great nephew Benjamin Kightlinger,  all 0f Erie, Penn.; and her nephew Clay Erb of Eau Claire, Wisc.  She was preceded in death by her mother, Jean Zelenski Ankner; father Harry Whitacre; sister Karen S. Whitacre Edmiston; and nephew Clifton L. Erb III.

Ms. Whitacre, known as MJ to her family, will be remembered fondly by all who knew her.  She was a kind and thoughtful woman, and always had a questioning mind and a loving heart.  Her closest friends would say she was a “free spirit” and always offered an engaging conversation.  Many will miss those long, thoughtful handwritten letters accompanied by newspaper and magazine clippings of articles or cartoons she thought the recipient would enjoy.

Throughout her life, and because of her lust for life, she had multiple careers.  Many of these were in administrative roles in banking and professional offices. More than anything, she loved to build, restore and remodel homes.

Among many things, Ms. Whitacre loved to garden, cook, design homes, listen to music and collect antiques. Her many interests and passions filled her life with joy, as well as the lives of those around her. Friends in the Grafton community knew they could count on her to drive them to appointments, help organize and participate in fundraising, and always lend a hand.  She supported her community in many ways over the years. Although her journey ended in Pennsylvania, she longed to return to Vermont.

A private family service was held in Erie.  The family asks that memorials on her behalf be made to the Grafton Rescue Squad, P.O. Box 54,  711 Rt. 121 East, Grafton, VT 05146; Grafton Cares, P.O. Box 134, Grafton, VT 05146; or Grace Cottage, 185 Grafton Road, Townshend, VT 05353.

A Celebration of Life is being planned by the family and the Universalist Unitarian Church in Chester later this summer.

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  1. Jay Karpin says:

    My wife Florence Karpin and Marlene were dear friends and Marlene always attended the readings of Florence’s poems, usually with a small group on our screened-in back porch. Marlene always had such clear visions and insights. And, when asked, the most profound advise.