In Memory of



Obituary for Marie Gentile

Marie, a lifelong resident of Newton passed away peacefully at her home on the day of her Dad’s birthday. Beloved daughter of Mary Ryder Gentile and the late James L. Gentile. Dear sister to Nancyellen Gentile and her twin sister Susan Gentile. Granddaughter of the late Michael Ryder and Nellie (Finnegan) Ryder, and Rocco Gentile and Nancy (Tambascia) Gentile. Niece of Anthony Gentile and wife Gina, John Gentile, and cousins Sandra (Gentile) Malec and her husband Tim and Stephen Gentile and his wife Jennifer. She also leaves behind many cousins here and in Ireland.

Marie’s family meant the world to her. Throughout her life she shared a special bond with her twin sister Susan and together they overcame the impossible.

Marie was a graduate of Mount Saint Joseph Academy and Saint Louis University where her love of the arts particularly painting, drawing, and poetry-writing began and continued after her accident. Marie’s artwork and poems from before and after her accident were featured in a 2013 Commonwealth Community Care Art Show at Boston Medical Center. For four years she protected beachgoers as a lifeguard in Chatham, MA, and was selected to represent Hardings Beach in competing in the Iron Woman event of the Annual Northeast Lifeguard Championship. Upon graduating from college Marie was employed as a chief counselor at Stepping Stones, a transitional living program for troubled adolescents.

An avid runner, she competed in many road races. She excelled at basketball as a Saint Louis Billiken, and attended numerous basketball camps in New England, including Dave Cowens Basketball Camp where she was also a counselor.

In 1990 a life-changing event left Marie paralyzed from the neck down. She now had a new mission in life, to meet the challenge of disability. Living life with a spinal cord injury was not easy, but Marie never complained. Faith, courage, and bravery, deeply rooted in Marie, helped her to live independently for 34 years and direct her own care. Had her life not moved in this direction, Marie always said she never would have met the wonderful people who came into her life. Her friendships lasted throughout the years; she communicated daily with friends dating back to elementary school.

In 1995 Marie met and touched Saint Teresa (Mother Teresa of Calcutta) during one of Saint Teresa’s visits to Newton, MA. Marie was featured in a 1998 U.S. News & World Report article highlighting Community Medical Alliance, an innovative managed care model for quadriplegics. In 2002 MSJA honored Marie as a Women of Excellence award recipient. She met Rabbi Harold Kushner in 2004 at his book signing of “The Lord is My Shepherd.” Psalm 23 was Marie’s favorite psalm which she knew by heart and recited every Friday with the late Reverend John J. Connelly and Carol Groden who brought her the Holy Eucharist. Taking a road trip with her family in 2009 to Washington, DC and visiting the Smithsonian Museums, culminated in private tours of the White House West Wing and the U.S. Capitol. In 2013, Marie, on behalf of the MA Coalition of Nurse Practitioners, testified before the Massachusetts State Legislature on proposed legislation related to nurse practitioner policies impacting care received for people with disabilities. Marie was an active member of BCMG’s advocacy support group that she later helped name Women on Wheels. Marie was a powerful lifeforce and she left a lasting impression on everyone she met. She will be greatly missed and always loved and remembered by her family, Personal Care Attendants, friends and the countless lives she touched.

Marie’s medical professionals shared that it is extremely rare for an individual with such a complex condition to live such a long and rewarding life. PCAs played an important role in Marie’s health and well-being. Special thanks to Erma and Denis, Judette, Ivannia, Mendy, Daneisy, Laurie, Danielle, Mirlene, Kim, and Joan. We also acknowledge the medical and respiratory teams and nurse practitioners that cared for Marie.

A Mass of Christian burial will be celebrated on Saturday, February 17, 2024, at Noon in Sacred Heart Parish, 1321 Centre St., Newton Centre followed by interment in Newton Cemetery. Visitation will be held in the Burke & Blackington Funeral Home, 1479 Washington Street, West Newton, on Saturday February 17, 2024, from 10:00 AM–11:30 AM.

Donations in Marie’s memory may be made to Boston Center for Independent Living, 60 Temple Place, FL 5, Boston, MA 02111 – Attn: Bill Henning or Feltin Community Care, 9A Forest Street, Cambridge, MA 02140 – Attn: Robert Master, MD.

To honor Marie’s life, the family gently suggests that you appreciate your lives, be more generous to those in need, to hesitate before you complain, and extend more kindness wherever you can. Her bright and shining smile will be missed by all.