After over 30 years volunteering hours of her time, raising tens of thousands of dollars for Schenectady organizations and being a friend to countless people, longtime city resident, 91-year-old Marjorie “Marge” Maas, is moving to New Jersey to join her family.
But not without a proper goodbye from all those whose lives she’s changed.
On Monday afternoon, Marge’s friends coordinated a drive-by parade around her residence in Glenville, featuring signs and messages to celebrate the impact she’s had on the community. Along with the parade, Maas was presented with a proclamation from Mayor Gary McCarthy, declaring Jan. 11 as “Marvelous Marge Day” in Schenectady. The proclamation featured several touching tributes to Maas, written by those she’s inspired over the years.
“We’re fortunate to have a lot of people like her,” McCarthy said before the event. “She’s one that stands out for her longevity in terms of her contribution to a number of organizations. Some people will pick one group and help it out, and that’s a really great thing on their behalf. But Marge has spread her willingness to assist, whether it’s been Proctors, MiSci, Boys & Girls Club, a number of things. She’s always out there helping. We’re just so fortunate to have had her as part of the community.”
Susan Senecal, a longtime friend of Maas and former board president at Proctors Theatre Guild, initially thought of the idea to recognize Marge when she learned that Maas was leaving the area. Senecal met Maas while performing in St. Claire’s Follies in the 1980s. After discovering that Maas tested positive for COVID-19 last month, Senecal rallied many of her friends from Schenectady’s Zonta club and beyond, including Debbie DeLuke and City Councilwoman Carmel Patrick, to organize something special. Maas’ departure, she said, leaves “a huge void in our hearts.”
“To have her leave the area without saying goodbye, except on the phone, just wasn’t something that we wanted to do,” Senecal said.
After seeing the display of love from her city, Maas, who always found a way to give back to her community, couldn’t find the words to express her gratitude.
“I’m still in some kind of shock,” Maas said. “The thing that struck me so much was that there were so many signs: ‘We miss you,’ ‘We’re going to miss you.’ And as I stood and watched, I said, ‘There’s no way you’re going to miss me with today’s technology. I’m going to Zoom in on you and embrace you.’”
Growing up, she said, she never “had a good sense” of herself, living with different realities and adapting to different situations.
“Today, I lost that feeling totally, forever and ever and ever,” Maas said.
In terms of what she’s learned from Schenectady, and what message she hopes to leave with her friends she’s saying goodbye to, Maas kept it pretty simple.
“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others,” Maas said. “And that was something I learned early on here.”