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Marie Porter, 1917-2018


Marie Porter, a longtime resident of Cochecton and Cochecton Center, NY, Beach Lake and Clarks Summit, PA, who was born and raised her family in New York City, passed away at The Pines Assisted Living Community in Clarks Summit on August 3 at the age of 100. She and her sister Helen Ryan were the children of Charles Reith and Agnes Scott whose family histories in Cochecton, Narrowsburg, Calicoon and Lava dated to the 1880s and earlier (e.g., Agnes’s Uncle Tom Scott was long the resident blacksmith in Cochecton.) On Tuesday, August 7 a Mass of Christian burial was concelebrated at St. Francis Xavier Church, Narrowsburg, by the Reverend Frank Herrmann, S.J. , a longtime friend of the family, and Reverend Dennis Dinan, pastor of St. Francis. Marie was predeceased by her husband William B. Porter Jr. and her son George R. Porter, and is survived by four children, William Porter, Marie Seeger, Carl Porter, and Jean Borowski, as well as by eight grandchildren, and 12 great-grandchildren.

Marie Porter was born on October 15, 1917 in New York City, the daughter of Charles and Agnes Reith, and the granddaughter of German and Irish immigrants. She lived in the city but spent summers on her grandfather’s farm in Cochecton Center, NY. She became a fiercely independent city girl—but one with strong and tender memories of her summers in the country. She passed both of these loves—city living and country life— on to her family.

In high school, she contracted a rare and painful bone infection called osteomyelitis. The story of her illness, her family’s struggles and faith, and her near miraculous recovery under the care of her parents, her doctor and St. Therese are legendary in the family.

Marie married William B. (Bill) Porter, when she was 24 at the Church of the Annunciation in New York. Bill adored Marie and the two devoted their lives to building a strong, faithful, and resilient family. Marie and Bill had five children, one of whom, George, was born with a very rare condition that left him severely disabled. But, as always, this shook neither her faith nor her resolve.

Bill and Marie raised their family in a small apartment in the Bronx. They were active parishioners and their children attended St. Helena’s parish elementary school until their high school and college days. They, too, worked out ways to spend summers in their beloved “country” home in Cochecton—which Bill worked tirelessly at restoring while Marie made sure the children learned every story and location of the family history she treasured.

Marie worked as an executive assistant at the board of higher education in New York City. (This at a time when working outside the home was actively scorned.) She was fiercely independent and, as always, ahead of her time. She drove a carpool to and from her Manhattan office, even after she and Bill had moved out of the city to suburbia.

There were few things that gave her as much joy, even as she aged, as driving. Long drives to the country were her favorites. Marie kept right on driving, giving up her car only under extreme protest in 2012, when she was 95. She never let her license lapse.

Throughout her nearly 101 years, what mattered most to Marie was her family. She was with her four living children when she passed into eternal rest on August 3, 2018.

Like a baby brother who died 97 years earlier, Marie stopped breathing just before 6 a.m. But when the nurses went to declare the time of death, they realized that while her lungs may have given out, her heart was not yet ready. Even in death, Marie’s heart didn’t know how to quit.

Of course, this was no surprise to those who know and love her. For there is nowhere in the universe she’d rather be—not even faced with the promise of Heaven—than in the company of her family in this life she made her own.


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