ROME -- Marian G. "Mollie" Schmidt, Ph.D., mother, psychologist, writer of children's books and poetry, and volunteer, died Saturday afternoon at home from complications of cancer.
A resident of Rome since 1992, Mollie was born in Detroit, Mich., to Austin Philip and Louise (Earhart) Guiles; she was the second daughter of a second daughter of a second daughter. Mollie attended Smith College from 1948 to 1950 and then married Constant van Eeghen, from the Netherlands. Mollie delighted in learning Dutch from the shopkeepers who were very careful in correcting her pronunciation. They lived in Amsterdam and then Soest with their two daughters until their divorce in 1958. There was much she admired in the Dutch social culture -- particularly their thoughtfulness of others.
In 1959, Mollie braved the trans-Atlantic journey by ship with two young daughters -- one of only two passengers to keep her sea legs when the ship ran into a huge March storm. On arrival in New York, she faced unloading 27 pieces of furniture and luggage on her own, as the longshoremen were on strike. Settling with her daughters in Montclair, N.J., Mollie enrolled in the Adult Program at Columbia University, earning a Bachelor of Science degree magna cum laude in comparative literature and a member of Phi Beta Kappa.
Mollie was introduced to Jim Schmidt, a social worker, who was passionate about the clubhouse model of rehabilitation for people with mental illness. He proposed marriage to her by gaining permission from her two small daughters, becoming a wonderful and thought-provoking father to them. Mollie and Jim had two sons to whom she read "The Lord of the Rings" with great appreciation of great literature wrapped around an adventure that even young boys could not resist.
In her 50s, Mollie became interested in the field of psychology and earned a MALS at the New School of Social research, an MA from Montclair University and a Ph.D. from Fordham University, while raising two teenage boys. She then became a licensed psychologist and certified hypnotherapist, practicing at Bergen County Center for Child Redevelopment, the Verona Counseling Center and in private practice in New Jersey and then Maine.
When Mollie and Jim moved to Maine for retirement, they built a welcoming lakeside home at which Mollie was delighted to welcome family and friends. Her flowers were a delight to many local walkers. She became highly involved in volunteer work for the College Guild and court-appointed special advocates as a guardian ad litem, and as a member of the Waterville Garden Club, Amnesty International of Maine, American Association of University Women and the Waterville Rotary Club. She published stories based on children's real experiences. One of her many poems reflected what she wanted others to remember of her life:
She was good at details
And she persevered.
Loved bright colors
Sometimes unaware of
The feelings of others, she
Became a therapist.
Her admitted goal:
To be a mother of a large familyÉ
She valued moderation,
But not excessively.
She valued change
But not constantlyÉ
She lucked out with a
She was predeceased by her husband, Jim Schmidt. She is survived by her four children, Emilie van Eeghen and husband Richard Tory, of Canaan, Connie van Eeghen and husband Steven Forman, of Vermont, James Schmidt and wife Tracey, of New Jersey, and Clifford Schmidt, of New Jersey; nine grandchildren, Colin Tory, Perelandra Flood Ph.D., Heather Tory M.D., Donivyn Schmidt, Jameslevi Schmidt, Anna Forman, Kristen Byers, Ruth Forman and Lillie Forman; plus three great-grandchildren (as well as one she was waiting for, expected in March 2014); her sister, Gwyneth Webb, of Georgia; her brother and sister-in-law, Jeremy and Cynthia Guiles, of Florida; and her sister-in-law, Catherine Guiles, of Topsham; and the children of her husband's late sister, Regina Colias, Steven Szuberla, Cristine Bremer and Teresa Amburn, all of Illinois.
The family especially appreciates the tender, loving care provided by her nurse, Rachelle Walsh, for the last year-and-a-half.
In lieu of flowers, friends may remember Mollie with donations to MaineGeneral Health at 10 Water St., Waterville, ME 04901; or to High Hopes Employment Program in care of KBH, 67 Eustis Parkway, Waterville, ME 04901.