Cover photo for Marguerite Keil Maurer's Obituary
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Marguerite Keil Maurer

Marguerite Keil Maurer
June 25, 1918 – October 30, 2019

Marguerite Keil Maurer, 101, went to be with Jesus for eternity on October 30, 2019. The last in her family of what is known as “The Greatest Generation,” Marguerite was born June 25, 1918, in New York City. She was the daughter of John Henry Keil and Ella (Sauer) Keil—and sister to Robert John Keil, her younger brother with whom she was very close.

From a very young age, she showed an artistic bent and a desire to create. Given a penny, she would buy crepe paper and make all sorts of fanciful creations. While visiting a farm with her father as a four-year-old, she went off on her own and wielded an ax to build a three-legged footstool. When she was six, her family moved to a house her father built in Harrison, NY, a small town near Long Island Sound, where she enjoyed swimming with her brother. After graduating from Harrison High School in 1936 as Valedictorian, she pursued her love for the arts at the Grand Central Art School, at that time one of the largest art schools in the city. For three years, Maggie, as she was known to her friends, studied under painters Edmund Greacen, Nan Greacen, and Ivan Olinsky, and sculptor Howard Weinman. A classically trained artist, her portfolio included oils, pastels, watercolor, charcoal, and ink.

After art school, Marguerite worked as a jewelry designer for Van Cleef & Arpels on Fifth Avenue until America entered World War II. Marguerite then joined the war effort as an Experimental Design Draftsperson for Grumman Aircraft Corporation on Long Island, NY, completing a series of prerequisite college classes at New York University and a 2-week orientation experiencing what it was like to be “Rosie the Riveter.”

Upon the encouragement of her roommates, Marguerite attended her first and only USO dance. By providence, John William Maurer, a Second Lieutenant in the Army, encouraged by a fellow soldier, also attended his first and only USO dance. John cut in on a dance, beginning an eight-month courtship. When the war ended, so did her job, but John offered her a joint venture—as his wife. They wed on September 15, 1945, at Riverside Church in Manhattan, NY, two weeks after the war ended. Sadly, her brother was unable to attend the ceremony, having been killed in Europe three months before the end of WWII, a loss Marguerite always felt.

While her husband studied engineering at MIT on the GI Bill, Marguerite worked as an Architectural Renderer for Royal Barry Wills, an architectural firm in Boston, MA. After John’s graduation, they moved to Schenectady, NY, where they bought a home and started a family. John worked 26 years for General Electric and 15 years for The State of New York Public Service Commission. During those 41 years, as a loving and supportive wife, mother of three, and a resourceful homemaker, Marguerite was always there for family and close friends.

Having grown up during the depression, she modeled the value of doing and creating over getting and having. Applying her many talents to the task of homemaking, she was a furniture designer and builder, seamstress, landscaper, florist, gardener/cook, house painter, piano player, and infrequent artist. Family favorites included yeast rolls, Austrian plum cake, apple pies, chocolate chip cookies, and many main dishes—including an abundance of fresh/canned/frozen fruit and vegetables from their garden and trees. Her efforts made possible family trips throughout America with a small trailer that she and John bought. Working vacations for her, these experiences imbued in her children a deep appreciation for the beauty of this country.

Marguerite was also a woman of faith. She accepted Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior, as did John, shortly after their move to Schenectady. Their faith was exemplified by a quiet peace in their home and her continual prayers for others. An involved member of the First Presbyterian Church in Schenectady from 1951 to 1989, Marguerite served when there was a need. She provided a wide variety of administrative support to the office of the church Pastor, Reverend Dr. Herbert Mekeel, and his successor, Reverend Michael Alford. She also helped in the children’s ministry for years and was deeply involved in rebuilding and refinishing the pastor’s office after a fire destroyed it. After John’s retirement, the couple moved to Chambersburg, PA, in 1989. They attended Chambersburg Bible Church for almost 20 years, making special friends there and in the community.

Marguerite had willingly sacrificed most of her artistic time to give her family a comfortable and blessed home–something others did not realize until much later because she never complained. Once she was able to resume painting in earnest, her talent was quickly recognized by awards and the admiration of fellow artists—such as selection for the Salmagundi 18th Non-Member Show in New York City (1995). Other prestigious solo and group exhibits included the 1984 Mohawk Regional Exhibition at Albany, the Montgomery County Art Council Exhibit at Amsterdam, NY, Art 86—the Albany Tricentennial Exhibit at the Empire State Plaza, The Cumberland Valley Show in Hagerstown, NY (1994, 1995, 1996), and Harrisburg, PA (1996), Mechanicsburg Art Center, WITF Gallery 33 and Chambersburg Council of the Arts “Celebrate.”

She was an active member of the Colonie Art League and Schenectady Art Society in the Albany area, and the Franklin County Art Alliance and Waynesboro Studio Club after they moved to Pennsylvania. She continued painting well into her nineties, capturing the beauty of familiar things in her still-life and landscape paintings. Numerous private and municipal collectors have purchased her work.

She was widowed in November 2009 after 64 years of marriage. In 2013, she moved to Arlington, VA, to live with her daughter. As time progressed, she could no longer paint. So, always a voracious reader, she would devour a book a day to keep her active mind entertained. Disciplined and self-aware, she exercised daily as best she could, allowing herself one piece of chocolate a day. Throughout her life, Marguerite remained positive and forward-looking—hopeful and optimistic—enduring and overcoming much without complaining.

Always sporting her distinctive style—a jauntily placed French beret or hat tilted just right—Marguerite’s contagious smile with a hint of mischievousness and her sweet disposition endeared her to many. Those close to her cherished her affectionate little “hello” and “bye-for-now” winks that would say, “I love you” and “I love you, too.”

Marguerite is survived by her eldest son and daughter-in-law, Robert and Kathleen Maurer, grandchildren Damien Lord, Sarah Garrison, great-grandchildren Walter Mckinley Garrison V and Mila Kathryn Garrison; daughter Martha Maurer; son and daughter-in-law Paul and Anne Maurer and grandchild Amelia Maurer; nieces Martha Franzel and Louise Goubeaux and their husbands, Glen Franzel and Dale Goubeaux.

The ashes of Marguerite and John will be placed together at Arlington National Cemetery. The interment date is yet to be determined. In loving memory, we thank the Lord for Marguerite and John.

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