Born on June 15, 1937, Marie Imelda Schloeder was the youngest of five children born to Francis Schloeder, a printer, and Helen Gallagher. She grew up in the neighborhood of Marine Park, where she played with her favorite dog Rex (who would follow her up the stairs and help put her to bed at night), and made sure to keep her older siblings on their toes. She showed an independent spirit at a young age, sneaking out to sell flowers on a nearby thoroughfare to make pocket money. Sometimes, on Friday nights, she also made a little extra money lighting stoves for her Orthodox Jewish neighbors, who weren’t permitted to do so on Shabbos. She also spent much time at her grandmother’s house, and visiting with her Aunts Dorothy and Marrie, with whom she would have a close relationship until the end of their lives. She also enjoyed recalling a memorable visit with her Great Aunt Helen—formerly Madame Helen Mapleson of the Metropolitan Opera, who once performed opposite the great Enrico Caruso—who could still belt out the high notes at the age of 95. Perhaps both her Great Aunt Helen and the rich musical talents of the Schloeder family contributed to Marie’s life-long love of music.
As a young adult, Marie tried out several paths. She entered a postulate at Maristhill in Lowell, Massachussetts, as a novice, with the intention of becoming a Roman Catholic nun, but found that it wasn’t her calling. After leaving the order, she moved out of her parents’ house to Manhattan—an exciting choice for a young woman of that time. She started out doing secretarial work and landed in an office where her boss was taking night classes in writing and editing. He was a little too lazy or intimidated to be bothered with doing his homework and asked his secretary, a young Marie, to handle it for him! She did, and when “he” earned high marks, she found her new vocation—technical writer. Marie wrote technical publications for several decades, working at various companies, including for the City of New York (at the Administration for Children’s Services) and the financial company, Banker’s Trust (now Deutsche Bank). She truly received the gift of finding work that she both loved and excelled at.
It was during her professional career that Marie met her future husband, Jack Grubel, while playing bridge—a passion they both shared. They married in 1973, in a civil ceremony in Maryland. At first, Jack and Marie had no intention of having children—they loved traveling, going to the theater, and enjoying life around their 57th Street apartment in Manhattan. But Marie eventually had a change of heart and convinced Jack to join the cause, and their son, Colin Grubel, was born on February 12, 1977. Both Jack and Marie enjoyed showing Colin all the sights and sounds of the city, and introducing him to the local museums, parks, and zoos that they loved. Although they divorced in 1985, Marie and Jack enjoyed an amicable friendship all of their lives, even taking a cruise together with their son and his wife in 2013—a memorable trip for both.
Marie raised Colin in Brooklyn Heights, living for thirty years in a spacious, beautiful apartment on Joralemon Street, near Borough Hall. Brooklyn Heights was a neighborhood that Marie truly loved and she made several close friends there over the years, including at her beloved First Unitarian Church, where she was a congregant and active member for many years.
In 2001, Marie’s life—and the lives of many—were forever changed by the September 11 attacks. Marie had been working for Banker’s Trust in lower Manhattan at the time. Fortunately, she was able to take shelter and avoided injury, but the events had a major impact on her, emotionally and philosophically. And like other Americans and New Yorkers, she struggled with the implications of the loss for many years to come. That time period also negatively affected businesses and markets, and as a result, Marie retired from her decades-long job as technical writer. Her career was not over, however—ever enterprising, she obtained her realtor’s license and rented and sold real estate with the Halstead agency in Brooklyn Heights for the next decade. She was a valued member at the agency, and it was with regret that she retired from that profession in 2011.
In 2005, Marie made another big change, selling her Joralemon Street apartment, and moving into one of Sunset Park’s historic Finnish co-ops on 41st Street, across from Sunset Park itself. Although Marie would always miss Brooklyn Heights, where she had made so many wonderful friends, she also made new and lasting connections with her neighbors. She was a member of the co-op board and could be seen daily at the Sunset Park Diner on 39th Street, where she breakfasted and visited with friends. She lived there until moving into a senior living facility in the Midwood/Kensington area of Brooklyn in 2016.
Throughout her life, Marie’s most striking features were her independence and voracity for life. She never liked to sit still and was always busy, whether it was writing op-ed pieces (including one published in The New York Times), painting (she took atelier-style classes for many years with Park Slope artist Andrew Reiss), reading books (she was a particularly avid lover of history and Doris Kearns Goodwin), playing Scrabble (brutally defeating most other players), going to the movies (especially, in recent years, with son Colin and friend Sindy), caring for many beloved cats (Fraidy Cat, Spice, Cinnamon, and Tartine), participating on social justice and other committees at her church, or singing in the Grace Choral Society of Brooklyn Heights.
Although her siblings and other relatives eventually moved to locations across the country, including Alabama, California, and Arizona, Marie cherished her family relationships, and made several visits to see them. She also frequently visited Jack in Florida, where he eventually retired. Among the favorite trips she mentioned often were a tour of France and Italy she made as a young adult; her voyage to visit her brother Frank while he lived and worked in Panama; road trips to Quebec and New England with her son; summer vacations at Cape Cod; a historical tour that she made to Selma, Alabama, to commemorate the civil rights march there; and a two-week visit to Peru, where she visited Machu Picchu and other sites.
Marie will be missed by her many friends and neighbors, and of course, by her family. She is predeceased by her ex-husband (Jack Grubel) and three siblings (Donald Schloeder, Frank Schloeder, Elaine Viscardi). She is survived by her son (Colin Grubel), daughter-in-law (Mary Cool), and granddaughter (Brigitte Grubel), as well as her brother (Paul Schloeder) and many nieces and nephews. Donations may be made in her memory to CaringKind, a New York City non-profit organization that provides support to people living with Alzheimer’s disease and their caregivers.