SALEM - Marguerite Eva Maniscalco (Sommer), also known to her family as “Aunt Charlie”, died on November 11, 2021, after many years of vigorous living and a few months of illness. She was 88 years old. Marguerite had lived in Salem, MA for 10 years, and previously in San Diego, California for 6 decades. She lived many lives: as a Merchant Marine, a nurse, a mother, a business owner and always, a gifted artist. When asked by a hospice worker if she was afraid of death, she replied, “Absolutely not! I have done everything I ever wanted to do.”
One of 8 children, Marguerite was born in Lincoln, Nebraska during the depth of the Depression. She spent her formative years in Moline, Illinois, but left home as quickly as she could, working as a nanny at 12, cocktail waitress at 17, then landing her dream job employed with the Matsonia Lines cruise ships traveling mostly in the South Pacific, but occasionally round-the-world. She worked many different jobs on the ships but spent the last few years as a steward in the Merchant Marine union, negotiating grievances while the ship was out to sea. At 35 she returned to San Diego, became a nurse, ran a nursing home, then met and married Dr. Jack Maniscalco, a divorcee with 3 children. They also adopted a boy that Dr. Maniscalco delivered.
Despite now being a mother of five, Marguerite took up hobbies with the intensity of a jewel cutter. She was a talented artist, an upholsterer, taught exercise classes in her living room, built a deck on the back of her house and repaired the neighbor’s vacuum cleaners. When her husband died suddenly in 1979, she bought a liquor store in Bonita, CA, reasoning that “…booze is inflation-proof. People always need to drink.” She herself rarely drank. While the proprietress of Bonita Valley Liquors, she also became the President of the Bonita Business and Professional Association, giving away some $10,000 per year in scholarships.
When her youngest child graduated from college, she resumed her travels, this time heading east. She traveled all over Europe, Asia and Russia, a country she fell in love with. She wrote home from St. Petersburg, “I’ve never seen so much gold. No wonder they had a revolution.”
While she loved California, she moved to Salem, MA in 2011 to be near her children and their families in her elder years.
Marguerite was both loved and feared as the matriarch of her large family. She was proud, impetuous, and quick to anger. She was also fiercely loyal, generous and would do anything for her family. Her grandnephew, Zachary Cliff said of her, “The thing that Aunt Charlie taught me was that family ALWAYS came first.”
She is survived by her children Gina Maniscalco (Donald Gilligan), and Jack Maniscalco, residents of Salem, MA; Katherine Maniscalco Braden (Scott) and Santino Maniscalco from Oceanside CA; Karen Maniscalco Moffat (Randy), in Show Low, Arizona; her sister, Sandra Roh (Bill) in Tucson, AZ; 9 grandchildren, 10 great-grandchildren, 20 nieces and nephews, 38 grand-nieces and nephews, and 39 great, great grand-nieces and nephews.
ARRANGEMENTS: A celebration of her life will be held in California at a later date. Assisting the family with the arrangements O’Donnell Cremations – Funerals – Celebrations, 84 Washington Sq., (at Salem Common) Salem. Donations in her name can be sent to Shoes That Fit at www.shoesthatfit.org/. To share a memory or offer a condolence, please visit www.odonnellfuneralservice.com
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