Marian J. Niles, 94, beloved mother, grandmother, aunt, and friend, passed peacefully on November 28, 2020, after a long and full life centered on her family. She recently had been under the care of her family and Hospice at the Abraham House in Rome, where she was cared for with great love and compassion.
Mom was born July 11, 1926. in Warren, Pennsylvania, a daughter of Fred and Flossie Babcock Smith.
From the age of 3, Mom grew up in various foster homes in Pennsylvania, Smethport, Port Allegany, Kane, and the Foster Brook Children’s Home in Bradford, Pennsylvania. At the age of 13 she moved to the home of her sister, Frances. Mom attended various schools, including Bradford Elementary, Stephen C. Foster Elementary, and Smethport School. She was married to Jack Niles, for 35 years who died on February 18, 1995.
At the age of 17, Mom was employed with the Herzog Company in Smethport, Pennsylvania. After the raising of her three children, she was employed by the Mohawk Electro Techniques in Holland Patent, followed by her employment with St. Leo’s and then St. Peter’s Catholic Church in Rome. Mom was drawn to the catholic church and its’ Truth, surrounded by a community of love for God. She couldn’t wait to become a catholic! With the guidance of Father Hearn, she eagerly absorbed the teachings of the church and became a daily communicant. During her employment at St. Peter’s, mom was not only the housekeeper, but a catechist for twenty years. She taught her second graders Bible lessons and simple songs to help them understand how much Jesus loves them. She was active in several organizations at St. Peter’s, including the Sisters of St. Joseph Associates.
In 2015, she was presented with the Seeds of Faith Award, which honors those of great faith who have given outstanding service to the catechetical ministry.
Mom promised Father Hearn she was going to retire as housekeeper from St. Peter’s Catholic Church when she turned 90. She kept her promise.
One of mom’s many gifts was her warm, sweet smile, a sign of happiness within. She made the best of what little she had and lived her life to its’ fullest through simple pleasures. How she loved watching her grandchildren’s ball games!
One of mom’s favorite pastimes was fishing! Every year, on vacation with her family, she would rise early in the morning and head to the water with her fishing pole, worms and beer. She spent the entire day fishing and always had the biggest catch of the day!
Mom was given a very special gift, her sewing ability. She was a talented seamstress who sewed for her family, made alterations for friends and neighbors beginning at the age of five. She created doll clothes by hand with whatever scraps she could locate. Mom would say, “By just admiring the cloth, deciding what I could make with it, makes me happy. Sometimes I dream about creating a certain item and the next day I make it just like in the dream!”
During her employment at St. Peters Church, Mom created many personalized baptismal bibs, curtains, priest stoles, robes and the Infant of Prague clothing. She did alterations for several of the local priests and parishioners.
Mom also sewed for many years in the support of L’Arche Syracuse, a community of adults with and without intellectual disabilities. With yards and yards of beautiful fabric she created hundreds of items; bags, aprons, wheelchair accessories, baby items, blankets, etc. She said she thought she was in heaven as she looked over the donated fabric. Her created items were then sold in support of L’Arche Syracuse.
Mom had a passion for the prison ministry where she was given the opportunity to share her great love of God with local inmates, visiting and witnessing to the four local prisons at that time. She faithfully said the rosary with them each Friday. Mom also took part in weekend retreats and made hundreds of stoles to be presented to the participating inmates.
Mom was a devoted wife, mother, grandmother, and friend who always put her family first. She touched many lives and will be greatly missed by all who knew her. Mom leaves two children, Brian (and the late Christina), of Weirton West Virginia, and daughter, Connie Cushman, of Rome, New York; grandchildren Jennifer, Bethann, Lyndsey, Becky (and the late Robert), Richard (Rhonda), Kimberly (Troy), Robert (Minerva), Marlee (Dave); great- grandchildren, Jessica (Peter), Shay, Jesse (Linda), Chananyah, Sarah, Mary Catherine (Nick), William, Olivia, Amber, Laura, Madeline, Caitlyn, Cassidy, Civanna, Daxton, Katy, Kaylee, AJ and Kyle; great-great-children, Maryjane, Caine, Brennen, Carter, Barlow, Maci, Lily, Trac, Tucker, Loa and Navi. Mom leaves many cherished, nieces, nephews and a host of long-time friends.
Always close to her heart was her son Eddie, who died unexpectedly in a motorcycle accident on June 22, 1974.
She was predeceased by sisters Bernice Mattison, Harriette Tauscher, Doris Ordell, Marguerite Hribal, Frances Ross , brothers Bob Smith, Fred Smith, and a special brother and sister-in-law, Bob and Dorothy Niles.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated Wednesday, December 2, 2020 at 11 a.m. at St. Peter’s Catholic Church in Rome. Family will receive friends at the church one hour prior to the Mass at 10 a.m. Anyone planning to attend is asked to please wear a face covering and adhere to social distancing requirements. Interment will take place in St. Peter’s Cemetery.
In memory of mom, remember something nice she did for you and pay it forward. For those so inclined, please consider the Abraham House at 417 N. Washington Street, Rome, NY.
Arrangements by Strong-Burns & Sprock Funeral Home, 7751 Merrick Road, Rome.