Marie Francis Gagnon of Apopka, Fla. died peacefully on Aug. 21, 2022 at the West Orange Center for Nursing and Healing in Ocoee, Fla. She was 89.
The daughter of John and Beatrice (Vice) Mendes, Marie was born on Sept. 8, 1932 in Lowell. Soon after World War II, the family moved to Provincetown. Marie had two brothers: Anthony, who died at six in 1935, and David, who died in 2017.
John Mendes was an artist, whose paintings can be seen in Seaman’s Bank in Provincetown. He donated 10 percent of the earnings from selling his art to St. Jude Children’s Hospital, a commitment that Marie never forgot.
In her Provincetown school years, Marie and her best friend, Agnes Martinez, were known as pranksters, said Marie’s daughter Cathy. More serious was her engagement with handicrafts; she learned how to knit and sew and to work with eggshells. She made music boxes and wedding cake toppers out of ostrich shells.
Before she finished high school, Marie met a young Coast Guardsman, Clayton Wein. They married in 1950, and Marie’s father built a cottage at 10 Central St. in Provincetown for the couple.
Marie worked at the Jobi Pottery gift shop, where, in addition to manning the counter, she painted the famous fish on small bowls. She later worked at the Highland House as a bartender and chambermaid.
Her marriage to Clayton ended in divorce in 1960.
A few years after that, Marie met Sgt. Gilbert Gagnon, who was stationed at the Air Force base in Truro. They married just before Gilbert shipped out to Vietnam for a 13-month tour. They later lived in Oxnard, Calif. and Buck’s Harbor, Maine.
After Gilbert retired, the family moved to Casselberry, Fla. and Marie took a job in the advertising department of the Orlando Sentinel.
She never quit making handicrafts. “She made an elaborate Elvis costume for a co-worker, who was later offered $3,000 for it,” said Cathy. He refused to sell it. In Provincetown, she painted a brightly colored road runner on a friend’s semi-tractor trailer. “There was nothing my mother couldn’t do,” Cathy added. “She was very crafty.”
Above all else, Marie was passionate about ocean cruises. She went on more than 80, and “she dreamed of living on a cruise ship,” said her daughter.
Marie is survived by her four daughters, Catherine Wein and partner Gary Tibbitts of Lakeland, Fla.; Kim MacAllister and husband Tim of Ocoee, Fla.; Denise Hoff and husband Jeff of Polk City, Fla.; and Dawn Santo and husband David of Apopka, Fla. She also leaves eight grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.
The family has received approval to scatter Marie’s ashes at sea.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations in Marie’s name to St. Jude Children’s Hospital at stjude.org/give.