We are deeply sorry for your loss - the staff at Hennessey Funeral Home & Crematory
Marie Jean Hunter (Collins), known as “Memere” by her family, passed peacefully Saturday, November 27th at the Spokane Veterans Home after battling illness. For 84 wonderful years, she lived life to the fullest, surrounded by her loving family.
She was born in Boston, Massachusetts, but given into foster care at birth. She grew up along the Massachusetts coast, eventually considering Hingham, MA home. As a teenager, she was assigned to social worker, Ms. Edna Ditmars, who became the closest person she ever knew as a mother. From summer housekeeping jobs in Martha’s Vineyard for Emily Post, to stints at the Brocklebank Hotel in New Hampshire, she eventually found young employment as house staff with Ditmars’ acquaintances, Pamela and Hop Swift in Hingham which awakened her to life’s greater possibilities. Ms. Ditmars, herself a WWI Army veteran, recommended perhaps a life of military service to the young Marie. With Ditmar’s help, Marie enlisted in the U.S. Air Force in 1956. Her fellow airman became the family she never had. After Basic Training, ready for her first assignment and longing to see beyond New England, she disappointedly was stationed at Westover Air Force Base in Massachusetts! But there she met fellow airman and Massachusetts-native, John Hunter, whom she married in 1958.
The newlyweds were soon transferred to Fairchild Air Force Base in Spokane where they fell in love with the Northwest and welcomed their first daughter, Eva (Roberts) in 1959. The Air Force then took them to Larson Air Force Base in Moses Lake, WA, where they welcomed their second daughter, Tracy in 1962. Together the young family traversed the globe, residing at Strategic Air Command bases across the United States and overseas - Nebraska, Maine, Washington, Greece, France England, Japan, the military was their life for nearly 30 years. A treasure trove of memories, stories, and cultural experiences most people never get to see. The family decided to retire back at their first duty station in Spokane. Sadly, John and Marie divorced in 1981, but the following year, she welcomed her one and only grandchild, Ashley (Roberts Dearie). There she transitioned into civilian life, owning her first little home on Spokane’s South Hill, and eventually opening and co-owning, Just American Desserts with her two daughters, Eva and Tracy, where she worked until her retirement in 2012.
Most of her later life was dedicated to her family, especially her granddaughter. She always said Ashley was her 45th birthday present, arriving just five days earlier, at the most pivotal time post-divorce. Together they formed a life-long bond rarely seen amongst grandparent and grandchild. From vacations across the country, Friday-night sleepovers, to annual trips to the Custer’s Antique Show and Interstate Fair, the two became best friends, which continued well in adulthood, speaking daily until her passing.
In 2013 and 2016, Marie witnessed the births of what she called her greatest gifts, her two great-grandsons, Corbin and Colin (Dearie). The two rambunctious redheaded boys became her “reason to live,” and a clear representation of her Irish heritage. Babysitting them well into her 80s, inventing games, keeping a well-stocked toy box at her Rockwood Lane condo, and decorating gingerbread houses with them for every season. Marie was a fun-loving, non-traditional grandmother, who taught her family that you’re never too old to have fun, to never be defined by your past, family always comes first, and instilled a strong love of country. She had a sweet sense of humor, the toughness of a military wife, and dedicated her life to her family, always showing unconditional love and constant support.
Marie had a passion for animals and dogs, especially her Jack Russell and Fox Terriers, never missing an airing of the annual Westminster Dog Show in New York and attending in-person in 2007. Her favorite pastime was watching old movies and listening to her extensive collection of old-time radio stories and sharing that love with her granddaughter. Her cupboard was never minus a can of tuna (a delicacy she dreamed of as a child), and her brunches were never complete without a pot of creamy SOS and a can of baked beans – Friend’s preferred, but B&M in a pinch! She had a passion for food and baking, and loved every type of bread, hot dogs, spaghetti & meatballs, peaches, diet soda, and introduced many in the Northwest to the Massachusetts original, Fluffernutter sandwich.
She was the epitome of femininity, loving everything pink and floral, always smelling of Caesar’s Woman perfume, never leaving the house without makeup - always including her favorite shade of MAC lipstick. Marie always considered Tom Selleck the sexiest man alive, and joked about him regularly up until her death. She was the patriarch of the family and was loved, respected, and appreciated by all. Their lives are now incomplete without her.
She was preceded in death by her ex-husband, John, son-in-laws, Steve (Roberts) and Mark (Springer) and is survived by her two daughters Eva (Roberts) and Tracy, granddaughter Ashley (Dearie), grandson-in-law, Scott (Dearie) and two great-grandsons, Corbin and Colin (Dearie). A private Catholic service and burial with full military honors with take place at the Spokane Veterans Cemetery.
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