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Marylen Grigas

1942 - 2017
Marylen Grigas Obituary
Marylen Grigas

Age: 74 • Burlington

Marylen Grigas, 74 of Burlington, died Feb. 14 at the University of Vermont Medical Center, following a three-year encounter with cancer. She was a gentle yet indomitable spirit who embraced life in all its forms with unswerving compassion and strength.

Marylen was born in Nashua, N.H. on Nov. 13, 1942. She majored in political science at the University of New Hampshire and moved to Vermont in the mid-1960s. She lived first in Burlington, where she taught at Rock Point School, and later in Sheldon, where she co-founded Crow Hill Pottery. She was also a co-founder, with other artisans, of the Designer's Circle store in Burlington.

Marylen and her young son, Jeremy, moved back to Burlington in 1979 and in 1980 resumed her teaching career at Rock Point School. She held several positions at the school over the next 20 years, teaching English, Art and Drama and later serving as the school's librarian. She married the love of her life, Lawrence Ribbecke, in 1988. The two were homeowners in Burlington's South End, where she raised Jeremy and in her spare time tended an expansive garden, plotted near and far adventures with Larry and cared for a succession of beloved Newfoundland and German Shepard dogs.

After completing her tenure at Rock Point School in 1998, Marylen embarked on what became her third major life pursuit: poetry. Her work -- sometimes humorous or heartbreaking but always deep and abiding -- was published in a variety of poetry journals over the past decade. Her poem "About Muscle" was selected by New Yorker magazine as a poetry highlight in 2014.

In November, Marylen celebrated the publishing of "Shift," a book of her poetry, at a book-signing event at Rock Point School where fellow poets read some of her poetry aloud to a large gathering. She was also the author of "Paper Chase," a 50-minute farce about Burlington's unfinished Southern Connector, that was performed during the city's 2010 South End Art Hop.

She is survived by her husband, Larry, and her devoted son, Jeremy Fortin of Burlington, who Marylen loved with all her heart. She is also survived by her sisters Linda Harris of Burlington and Janet Grigas of Saratoga, N.Y., her brother-in-law Thomas Ribbecke of Healdsburg, CA and sister-in-law, Margaret Czekay, of Medford, N.J., as well as nieces Riley Barthold of Los Angeles, Carrie Delaporta and Katie Rollins of Saratoga, N.Y., and Lorelie Grigas of Wilmington, N.C, nephew Bikram Grigas of Wilmington, N.C. and Marylen's first husband, Joseph Fortin of Calais.

Marylen was pre-deceased by her parents, Leonard and Mary Grigas of Nashua, N.H., brother Leonard Grigas Jr. of Merrimack, N.H., and sister Judy McAlpine of Sheldon.

Marylen's family would like to thank the doctors at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, Mass., and the University of Vermont Medical Center in Burlington, particularly oncologist Farah Kahn, for their care and support for Marylen the past three years.

In lieu of flowers, Marylen's family asks that people make a donation in her name to Rock Point School in Burlington. A remembrance ceremony honoring Marylen's life will take place June 17 at 2 p.m. in the chapel at Rock Point.

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Published in The Burlington Free Press on Mar. 6, 2017
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