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Marge Purves
March 27, 2018


Marge (Harvey) Purves died peacefully at her home on Tuesday, March 27, 2018. She was diagnosed with Stage four lung cancer four weeks before she died. Her daughters, Jennifer and Molly Purves and Marge’s niece, Katie Shaw cared for her in her home with the help of the VNA of Worcester and many of Marge’s family, friends, and neighbors.

Marge was born in Hartford, CT the daughter of Daniel and Marge Harvey, she was the youngest of three daughters. All three of the girls could be described as tomboys. They spent summers in Strafford, Vermont swimming and horseback riding. Marge attended the Oxford School for Girls (Class of ‘54) where she made life long friends and was president of the athletic club. She made her debut at the Holly Ball in 1953. Marge went on to Radcliffe College (class of ’58) where she majored in English and then earned her Masters in American Literature at Brown University.

While working at Houghton Mifflin in Cambridge, MA, Marge met Austin Purves. They married in 1968 after a short courtship. In April of 1972 they settled in Worcester, Ma. where they moved into an apartment on Crown Hill. Marge stayed on Crown Hill for the rest of her life, relocating to a condo around the corner from the original apartment about 10 years ago. She was a member of the Crown Hill Neighborhood Association and was committed to improving the quality of life on Crown Hill and the surrounding area. She could be seen collecting trash from the sidewalks and streets on her daily walks.

Marge became a fixture in the world of human services in Worcester. She ran the volunteer program of the palliative care unit at UMASS Medical for ten years. She served on the board of Daybreak, then stepped down to serve as Executive Director until the early 1990’s. After leaving Daybreak, she worked for the Battered Women’s Coalition in Boston. It is Marge’s volunteer work for which many people will remember her. The following is not a complete list but it shows her commitment to the organizations and the people of Worcester. She served on the boards of: Summer’s World, Family Health Center (which she served on for 45 years until her death), Worcester Common Ground, Elm Park Center for Early Childhood Education, and the Network Center. She was also a mediator for the court system for many years. She was very capable at holding difficult situations and feelings so that the people involved could work towards a resolution. She believed in being an advocate for good and leaving places better than she found them.

Marge and Austin’s marriage ended in 1989, shortly thereafter, Austin became Vivian and lived the rest of her life as a woman. They remained friends until Vivian died in 2017. Marge’s great loves were, Vermont, the wide circle of friends she cultivated and her family, especially her two daughters, Jennifer and Molly. Regardless of where they were or what they were doing, Marge’s love for them was endless and unconditional. She took delight in lavishing affection on her grandson, Rodeo. Even before Marge had her own children she was known as a favorite aunt to her many nieces and nephews. She and Austin took in their niece, Lis (Guiney) Tamarkin so that she could attend Sudbury Valley School in Framingham.

While not a professional performer Marge never missed an opportunity to show off her singing, poetry reciting, dancing and storytelling skills. People may remember her telling the story of “Laddle Rat Rotten Hut” or dancing the night away with her friend, Nancy Sawyer at Gilrein’s. She sang with the Worcester Choral Society for many years. She had a remarkable memory for poetry and songs and enjoyed both throughout her life. Lastly, Marge had a wicked sense of humor that was beyond compare. She loved things that made her laugh and she loved making other people laugh. In the last years of her life Marge described her role in life as being the comic relief. She was all that and more.

Marge is survived by her two daughters, Jennifer and Molly Purves, honorary daughters, Lis Tamarkin and Katie Shaw, grandson, Rodeo and son-in-law, Curtis Langer, sister, Anne Kulak and many nieces, nephews and great-nieces and nephews. She was predeceased by her parents, her ex-husband, Vivian Allen and her sister, Mame Willey.

Her funeral service will be held on Saturday, April 7th at 11:00 AM in St. Matthews Parish, 695 Southbridge Street, Worcester. Burial will be at a later date. Calling hours are Friday, April 6th from 4:00 until 7:00 PM in O'CONNOR BROTHERS FUNERAL HOME, 592 Park Avenue. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in her name to Family Health Center of Worcester at, Abby’s House at, Worcester Common Ground at or the VNA at

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O'Connor Brothers Funeral Home
592 Park Avenue
Worcester, MA 01603