July 17, 1928 - July 7, 2016
Marva Sierzega, 87, beloved mother, grandmother, nurse, caregiver and volunteer, passed away quietly on July 7th, in Salem, Oregon. Marva was born on July 17, 1928, in Chicago, Illinois, the only child of Frank Alfred and Florence Petersen Smith. At age nine, Marva lost her mother to illness, and went to live with her paternal grandparents. Marva's father visited frequently, but he passed away when Marva was just 11. These early childhood challenges shaped Marva's dedication to hard work as well as her private nature.
She married Louis Anthony Sierzega on September 6th, 1948. Marva was preceded in death by her oldest child, Peter Scott Sierzega, who passed in 1962, and by her husband who passed in 1998.
Marva is survived by three sons, Jeffrey, Brian, and Benet; she also leaves six daughters, Sarah Wetjen, Jane Billings William, Amy Sierzega Thomas Carroll, Leslie Burke Monte, Julia Sierzega-Long, and Anne Holder. Marva's many grandchildren and great-grandchildren will treasure their visits to Grandma Marva's farm.
In 1961, Marva turned to her faith in God when oldest son, Peter, was diagnosed with a fatal medical condition. When Peter could no longer attend school, Marva became his teacher at home, long before home-schooling was common. Peter lost his battle in 1962, Marva's faith in God sustained her.
In 1965, Louie convinced Marva to move to Oregon, and they packed the kids in the family station wagon and traveled cross-country, settling in Salem. In 1966, Marva and Louie bought a farm on the outskirts of Salem, in the St. Vincent de Paul parish. Marva immediately enrolled the children at St. Vincent de Paul elementary school. From there, Marva launched her volunteer career by serving in the Altar Society. Recently Marva could be found working at the Food Bank and or delivering Holy Communion to home-bound parishioners.
Once all her children were off to school, Marva focused on her own educational path. She returned to college, and, ever a scholar, Marva graduated at the top of her class in the Nursing Program at Chemeketa Community College. Then as a Licensed Practical Nurse, Marva began a 10-year career working with the residents at Lancaster Village.
Throughout her life, Marva valued hard work and sacrifice. If a child complained of a slight or insult by another, Marva suggested, "Offer it up!" She taught the value of literature and of great American writers from Mark Twain to Robert Frost. She prized charity, and expected her children to donate a portion of their berry-picking earnings to the Church. She believed in duty, but at times felt compelled to speak her mind on controversial matters. Most importantly, Marva's early life challenges helped mold her positive approach to life and we will remember her optimism for the future.
A Funeral Mass for Marva will be celebrated on Monday, July 18th, at 11:00 am, at St. Vincent de Paul Church in Salem. A Rosary Service is scheduled immediately before the Mass, at 10:30 am. Gifts in memory of Marva may be made to Marion-Polk Food Bank or St. Vincent De Paul Parish.