Mary Vandermeulen

Obituary of Mary Vandermeulen

Mary E. Vandermeulen, of Niskayuna, New York, and formerly of Perry, Ohio, died April 29, 2017 peacefully at home. She was 62.

The daughter of Gloria and the late Eugene Twardzik, Sr., she was born in Amsterdam, New York and, with the exception of fourteen years in Northeast Ohio, lived most of her life in the Mohawk Valley. She had a keen interest in the history, prehistory and culture of the Valley, and never ceased to be captivated by its landscape and ever changing seasonal beauty, spending many hours walking along the Mohawk River photographing its wildlife and its sunsets. While both an undergraduate and graduate student in anthropology at SUNY Albany she was a participant in the Mohawk Valley Project, a long-term archaeological project under the direction of Dean R. Snow.

While in Ohio, she worked as a field instructor in the Cleveland Museum of Natural History's Archaeology Field Experience Program for middle school students, was a part time instructor in the Humanities and Social Science departments at Lake Erie College in Painesville and Lakeland Community College in Kirtland, and created outreach exhibits for the education department of Great Lakes Theatre Festival in Cleveland. Above all, it was motherhood that brought her greatest joy. Known as "Thomas' mom", she delighted in coaching Thomas' youth soccer team, leading his cub scout den, bedtime stories and nature walks, daily trips to US and later trips to Cambridge. She was always eager to attend art exhibits and theatrical productions with family and friends, and especially looked forward to annual family trips to coastal Maine and occasional trips to The Netherlands.

Most recently, she was pursuing a graduate degree in information science at SUNY Albany, through which she enjoyed spending two years as a graduate student assistant at the New York State Archives in Albany.

In addition to her mother, she leaves her husband of 37 years Thomas Vandermeulen, son Thomas Vandermeulen, and stepdaughter Lori Vandermeulen Kent. Her stepson, Douglas Vandermeulen, died in 1987. She also leaves her brother, Eugene (Mary) Twardzik, Jr., niece Kayla Twardzik, nephew Kevin Twardzik, and her affinal Willems family in The Netherlands.

In lieu of flowers or contributions, those wishing to remember Mary in a special way are invited to, in her words, "never cease to be amazed and enchanted by the wonder that surrounds you . . . and share that wonder with a loved one, a friend, a colleague, a stranger . . . there is so much wonder to behold."

A memorial service will be held by the family at the Niskayuna Reformed Church on May 27 at 3pm. A park bench will be placed in her memory at Lions Park in Niskayuna, along the banks of the Mohawk.