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Marilyn Joyce Le Blanc Caulfield

Obituary for Marilyn Joyce Le Blanc Caulfield

June 17, 1934 - April 4, 2019
Lynnfield, Massachusetts | Age 84

The Angels Have Come for a Dynamic Art Gallery Entrepreneur

Obituary

In the loving company of her immediate family, Marilyn Caulfield died of late-stage complications of Alzheimer's disease in Woburn, Massachusetts, on April 4, 2019.

Born to Ivadelle and Leon Le Blanc in Swampscott, Massachusetts, on June 17, 1934, Marilyn embodied the spirit of a verse her maternal grandmother immortalized in needlepoint to celebrate the new baby's arrival: "A child of June gives all away, to brighten everybody's day." This treasured keepsake retained lifelong pride of place in Marilyn's home.

Along with her older sister, Dorothy, and her younger sister, Corrine, Marilyn grew up in Lynn. Leon and Ivadelle doted on their girls, who were raised American Baptist, the traditional faith of their maternal line. Leon and Marilyn shared a deep respect for creative people, and would sometimes visit the art galleries on Bearskin Neck in Rockport. More often than not, however, outings with their father found Marilyn and her sisters attending rodeos, boxing matches, and ball games. Ivadelle's less-boisterous pastimes, such as theater, playing the piano, and reading, also became a central part of the girls' lives. Summer weekends and vacations were spent at the family's lakeside camp in New Hampshire. Marilyn and her sisters often expressed the gratitude they felt for having enjoyed such a happy childhood. Tragedy intruded only once, when their beloved grandmother lost her life to cancer at age fifty-four.

Eager to work, Marilyn secured her first after-school job at age fourteen, as a cashier at Supreme Bakery. A popular student, she was awarded the superlative "The Sweetheart of Lynn English High School" in her 1952 yearbook. By graduation, Marilyn had already been engaged to former all-scholastic Lynn English football player, Robert O. Caulfield, for months. Robert, who was twenty-one, had recently mustered out of the Marine Corps, with dreams of becoming a landscape artist.

Their wedding plans hit a roadblock when Marilyn's aversion to converting to Catholicism, which was Robert's religion (as well as her father's), met with ecclesiastical opprobrium. Marilyn held firm to her beliefs, stating, "I was baptized a Protestant, and I will die a Protestant." The young couple was both heartbroken and confused by the conflict their interfaith wedding plans created among the religious establishment of that time.

Marilyn and Robert eloped to New Hampshire one August evening later that summer. In the decades ahead, anyone who knew the couple understood that the honeymoon had never ended, and that Marilyn and Robert's marriage was a perpetual romance. As a family member once said, "Marilyn and Robert have the real deal."

The newlyweds moved into an apartment in her parents' three-family on Boston Street. This humble beginning marked the start of a union that would last nearly sixty-seven years. A few years later, they bought the three-family from Marilyn's parents. Not long after that, the couple and their growing family moved to a home on Falls Street.

In 1965, Marilyn and Robert and their five children moved to a two-hundred-year-old Colonial, on Main Street in Lynnfield. A stay-at-home mom during the day, Marilyn worked a part-time evening job at Jordan Marsh in Peabody. She discovered she had a talent for sales, a skill she worked to develop. A reluctant cook, she was nevertheless proud of the fact that she had never once served her husband or children a TV dinner.

When her youngest son entered elementary school in 1971, Marilyn accepted a full-time position as assistant treasurer at the Lynnfield Town Hall. While she sometimes regretted that she had not gone to college, she was infinitely proud of the fact that four of her five children were awarded college diplomas, three of them earning advanced degrees.

Robert's dream of a professional art career had been relegated to a part-time pursuit during the decades that he and Marilyn had focused on raising their children. Despite painting in his spare time and exhibiting his work, by the time he had reached his forties, Robert had begun to feel the parade had passed him by. However, Marilyn held steadfast to her belief that her husband could forge a successful art career later in life. Her husband's most trusted critic, Marilyn had a keen eye for design and composition.

After an image of one of Robert's paintings appeared as the centerpiece in Yankee magazine in 1983, Marilyn convinced her husband to take early retirement from his executive position at the Boston Gas Company.

Trading their successful suburban lifestyle for a fixer-upper in rural Vermont, Marilyn and her husband opened The Robert O. Caulfield Art Gallery in 1985. During the gallery's early years, Marilyn managed the business, contributing to sales when she wasn't managing the front desk at the Quechee Inn. As Robert's work started selling more consistently, Marilyn devoted her formidable sales skills to selling her husband's oil paintings, watercolors, and lithographs full-time—with spectacular results.

The 1980s and 1990s showered many blessings upon Marilyn and Robert, the greatest of which was the arrival of eleven grandchildren, for whom Marilyn was "Grammy."

An ardent reader, Marilyn enjoyed spending time browsing bookstores for rare first editions to add to her collection. Her favorite novel was Wuthering Heights. A lifelong fan of theater and the movies, Marilyn often made trips to New York so that she and Robert could take in the latest Broadway hits.

Marilyn's wit and delightful sense of humor enchanted everyone who visited the gallery. Her shrewd business acumen resulted in Robert becoming one of the best-selling artists in the world. As Robert says, "I owe everything to Marilyn." During the thirty-five years the gallery was in operation, Marilyn and Robert sold over three thousand of his original oil paintings and watercolors.
The two working-class kids from Lynn—who had once scrimped for every penny, struggling from paycheck to paycheck for many years—spent the past two decades living in one of the finest mansions on Woodstock's village green. Marilyn had a passion for fine jewelry, and amassed quite a collection. She was the life of every party. Her profound sense of justice inspired her to devote her time and money to helping those less fortunate. Marilyn was always there for a friend in need.

Although she enjoyed spending free time at their oceanfront condominium in Highland Beach, Florida, Marilyn especially loved to travel. She and Robert often visited the Caribbean and Europe. One of Marilyn's favorite destinations was Moscow. Her favorite cities were Boston, New York, Paris, and Istanbul.

The past decade witnessed the arrival of nine great-grandchildren, for whom Marilyn was "Gigi."

In many ways it might seem as if Marilyn was born under a lucky star. Even on an occasional casino visit, she would almost always come out a winner, and a big one at that. But, as even the luckiest discover, luck by its very nature is fickle.

Following the diagnosis of an intracranial hematoma she suffered in July of 2013, Marilyn underwent brain surgery. Her recovery marked the beginning of a valiant battle to reclaim her life. At first unable to speak or walk, she did retain the ability to read.

The drive that had enabled Marilyn to rise from her humble roots to one of the finest houses in Woodstock, Vermont, helped her regain the ability to speak and to walk again. She enjoyed four more happy years with her husband and family, until Alzheimer's disease began its diminution of the joyous light she had shined into so many lives. Even as her life neared its end, there was a twinkle in her blue eyes, which remained as clear and bright as they had been in her youth.

Marilyn's husband, Robert, and her five children, Robert, Cynthia, Craig, Lorelle, and Wayne, survive her, as do her children's spouses, Patricia, Paul, and Ariadne.

Marilyn is also survived by her eleven grandchildren: Kelly, Todd, Krystle, Kimberly, Brian, Kaitlin, Brendan, Travis, Camille, Julia, and Brooke; and her nine great-grandchildren: Trenton, Fiona, Kayla, Kenzie, Emma, Hannah, Blake, Ellie, and Arlo.

Marilyn's sister Corinne Wallace predeceased her. Marilyn's brother-in-law George Wallace survives her, as do her sister, Dorothy Hunt, and brother-in-law, Donald.

Marilyn was emphatic in her choice of a traditional burial. As she once said, "I don't want to be cremated. I never liked to smoke."

Visitation for relatives and friends will be held at the Centre Congregational Church, 5 Summer St., Lynnfield on Friday, April 12 from 9:30-11AM with a Funeral Service to follow beginning at 11AM. Interment will be at Forest Hill Cemetery in Lynnfield. Arrangements in the care of the McDonald Funeral Home, Wakefield.

In lieu of flowers, contributions to the Alzheimer's Association at www.alz.org would be appreciated.

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19 Yale Avenue
Wakefield, MA 01880
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