Marie Louise Thielens, 95, a young-at-heart Villanova mother, grandmother, and friend to many, died Friday, April 9, at Paoli Hospital after complications from a stroke.
An independent woman, Mrs. Thielens played tennis into her 80s and drove in her 90s. And she and her women friends got pretty spirited when they gathered to watch their beloved Eagles and Phillies.
Well into her senior years, Mrs. Thielens embraced technology, most recently Instagram, where she attracted a following.
“My friends couldn’t wait to see what the comment was going to be from @mommom416,” said her daughter Amy Buck. “At 95, that’s not bad.”
But Mrs. Thielens’ greatest passion was her family. She was a frequent and enthusiastic presence at her children’s and grandchildren’s sporting events and performances.
“My mom was very, very involved always with our schools and being an amazing volunteer from elementary days all the way through high school,” said Buck, of Berwyn. “I think people — not just my friends, but my brother’s friends, my sister’s friends, many, many people — saw her as a second mom, even if they had their own terrific mom. She was just very welcoming.
“She was the true matriarch of our family,” Buck added. “We’re a very close family, and she really taught us how to love and put family first.”
Mrs. Thielens was born Feb. 23, 1926, in Philadelphia to Joseph and Marie McDevitt. The family moved to Wynnewood while she was in elementary school.
While higher education wasn’t a given for young women in her day, Thielens, whose friends called her Dev — studied English at Rosemont College.
She later met and married James Thielens, had three children and raised their family in Villanova, where they resided their entire 57 years of marriage until his death in 2009. Afterward, she lived in Berwyn. In the last year, she lived in Dunwoody Village, an independent living senior residence in Newtown Square. She remained an avid reader and bridge player and had many friends.
“She touched many lives,” her daughter said.
As a young mother, Mrs. Thielens cared for her children at home when they were small but worked outside the home after they got older. She first took a position in development and public relations at Valley Forge Military Academy but later became public relations director for Rosemont, her alma mater.
In addition to volunteering in her children’s schools, from Roland Elementary through Radnor High School, Mrs. Thielens was active with the Radnor Scholarship Fund, the Devon Horse Show, and the Women’s Resource Center.
For the last three decades, the highlight of her year was the family’s annual vacation on Hilton Head Island, S.C., a time when they could all be together. The vacation was canceled for the first time last year because of the pandemic.
“We would have gone last year, but we didn’t think it was safe to travel,” Buck said. “We plan on going this year to honor her memory and to keep that going.”
In addition to her daughter, Mrs. Thielens is survived by son Ted, daughter Lori Horning, seven grandchildren, and many relatives and friends. Her older sister died earlier.
A funeral was held Thursday, April 15.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, 200 Vesey St., 28th Fl., New York, NY 10281, or online at www.jdrf.org.