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Remembering Marie Petit

Marie L. Petit, who died September 17th, 2010, embodied the volunteer spirit which has made it possible for the Huntington Historical Society to share Huntington’s heritage with generation after generation.  For years she was a docent leading people of all ages through the David Conklin Farmhouse and the Dr. Daniel W. Kissam House Museums.  But her true love was participating in the Society’s education program, especially Passport to the Past.

Tom Ernst remembers working with her at Passport a few years ago when “We couldn’t find the tripod for hanging the ‘Stone Soup’ pot over the fire.  Marie scrounged around and found a substitute, we built the fire and she took the class through the cooking exercise.  Later she found the correct tripod which was important to her because her husband, Roger, had made it many years before.”

 Marie was actively involved with many other organizations also.  She was a founding member of the Huntington French Club and Monica Manner said that “I first met Marie Petit when I became a docent at the Huntington Historical Society.  She taught me many things about the clothing worn by David and Sybil Conklin.  I knew then what a patient and nice person she was.  A few years later I joined Homemakers.  The first time I went I walked into a room of over fifty women.  The only familiar face I saw was Marie's. She immediately came over and took me to where she was seated.  She introduced me to the women at her table.  From that day on she always made me feel welcome.  She explained the workings of the organization.  Even years later she would save a seat foe me. She was somewhat disappointed that the organization had changed over the years.  No one did intricate embroidery anymore.  And, some of the ladies even ‘made a cake from a mix!!’   She was truly a kind and gracious lady.”

In actual fact, Marie and Roger provided many of the items and costumes now in use by the Society.  Alice Link remembers that “Always self effacing, Marie took great care in her research for the colonial cooking that she did for the Historical Society and for the Militia.  She also took infinite care in the making of all hand sewn, eighteenth century dresses and military uniforms.”

 Joanne Alairo Paulsen remembers that “Whatever time I was privileged to share with Marie will always be remembered.  She was kind, gentle and caring to me.  I loved listening to her many stories of a time long ago.  She told those stories so well I felt I lived the events too.  Thank you Marie...

Cathi Horowitz  said that "Our friend Marie defined elegance.  She was an elegant lady - an elegant lady in skirts and hats - an elegant lady in love with history.  When Marie walked into a room we said: "Oh look!  Marie is here!"  Smiles all around.  We flocked to sit near her.  We loved to learn from her - loved to listen to the stories of her life.  We loved to laugh and smile with her.  Marie was radiant in her Colonial costume and shone in her fine 18th century attire.  She was at home in a petticoat and a corset.  Marie sprinkled lovely French words into her conversation.  She charmed us and was stunning - all cheekbones and done up hair.  When you tasted Marie's famous quiche your mouth watered at the savory crust and delicate custard.  You always wanted just another slice.  When Marie embroidered and stitched, you marveled at the fineness of it.  Marie was smart, gifted, kind and gentle.  When you spoke to her she listened.  Genuinely listened.  She found joy in your joy and sorrow in your sadness.  Marie's eyes sparkled when she spoke of her beloved husband and family.  Marie was at home building a fire and stirring the kettle.  She loved being with children at the Huntington Historical Society school programs and summer camp and taught them well.  Marie walked in rain and snow to catch the bus in order to volunteer her vast knowledge at the Huntington Historical Society house museums, programs and events and festivals.  She shook off offers to give her a ride to and from - she never fully understood that we relished those moments in the car with her.  Moments we could chat and catch up with her.  How fortunate we are - she made a great permanent mark at the Historical Society, with the children she worked with and in the lives of her friends and those she touched.  Marie was our pleasure - our great gift."

Marie was an important and contributing member of the Society.  She will be greatly missed, but her contributions will carry on as part of Huntington’s heritage.  As Joanne says, Thank you Marie, Thank you.