Annette Marie Marsella died on December 4 at Monadnock Community Hospital. Annette was born on July 6, 1959, the third daughter of Eleanor Marino Marsella and Alfred Anthony Marsella, and grew up in Mamaroneck, NY. Her grandparents had come to New York as immigrants from southern Italy. Born with severe health challenges, Annette fought to live and survived multiple childhood surgeries, showing great bravery as she grew up and studied at the College of New Rochelle, earning her BA in psychology and training to be a teacher. Annette continued to live with pain until her death. But not just with pain: also with joy. She so loved children, especially her nieces and nephews and their children. She never forgot our family birthdays and was sure to remind us all of those days. Annette also loved music and you wanted her on your Trivia team when it came to questions about popular culture. She reserved a special affection for dogs and cats, and above all - basset hounds!
Annette wanted to serve others. Between 1994 and 2009, she gave over 2,400 hours of volunteer work at White Plains Hospital in New York, where she received the Volunteer of the Year award. In 2010 Annette moved to New Hampshire, where she found joy and meaning in reading to children at the staff day care at Crotched Mountain Rehabilitation Center in Greenfield, the SKIP afterschool program in Peterborough, and the Jaffrey Public Library, and also to other adults who were differently abled. For many children, Annette was the first person in a wheelchair with whom they interacted closely. The wheelchair, rather than something strange to fear, often drew children’s natural curiosity and Annette graciously welcomed their interest, modeling through her example that people of all different abilities have much to give and to teach.
Her family and friends remember her for her courage, spirit and compassion. “Despite her own hard trials and tribulations, she exemplified kindness and thoughtfulness towards everyone.” “Through her, I became more aware of those who live in our midst, who make meaningful lives, with so much less than I have. Also, I was moved by the depth of her connection to her large, supportive and loving family. She was a treasure. I was inspired by her countenance, her energy, her delight. I will miss her.” “Someday we will all dance together, no wheelchair in sight.”
In lieu of flowers, Annette’s family suggests that any friends wishing to honor her memory read a story or spend some special time with the children in their lives, or consider a contribution to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital or other causes that benefit children, especially those born into the world with challenges the rest of us can hardly imagine facing -- challenges Annette faced with incredible courage, grace and love for the last 61 years.
A celebration of Annette's life will be announced at a later date, when it is safe to gather.
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