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OLD ORCHARD BEACH—Former longtime Town clerk, Maureen May Mokarzel O’leary, died Wednesday, August 23, 2023, at her home in Old Orchard Beach following a lengthy illness.
Maureen was born in Portland, on May 12, 1939, a daughter of George Salim Mokarzel and Kathleen Dorgan.
The yearly Old Orchard Beach Town Report for the year 2000 was dedicated to Maureen. The following dedication message was written by Roger & Mary Tousignant.
“Maureen, who was also known as “MO” to many citizens and close friends, and as “MIMI” to her nieces and nephews, served the Town of Old Orchard Beach and the citizens of the State of Maine for more than a quarter of the twentieth century.
She was one of thirty-six births registered in the town in 1939. She was the fourth child, of her mother and father. Her father was a native of Beirut, Lebanon, and her mother was born in Ireland. Maureen grew up in Old Orchard Beach when it was a “small village” and its citizens were an “extended family”, when everyone was known by their first name in this “year-round community”. She was educated in the local school system and graduated from Old Orchard Beach High School in the Class of 1957, which had 37 students.
Maureen started serving the public as a young girl. While in Junior high school, high school, and college, she owned and operated Maureen’s Gift Shop and later the Boston Fruit Store in the family block located on Old Orchard Street, now the location of the Belle Buoy Restaurant.
When she left the University of Maine in Orono, she worked for a major bank in Boston as an Executive Administrative Assistant. She returned to Maine a few years later and worked as a traveling Clerk of Courts for the State of Maine District Court system. In 1979 she commenced her longtime service to the citizens of Old Orchard Beach as an employee in the Town’s Tax Collector’s Office. In 1981, upon the retirement of her predecessor, Barbara E. Lord, Maureen was the third woman to be elected by the voters to serve in the position of Town Clerk in a four-way race with three other women. The first woman elected was Barbara E. Lord’s predecessor, Esther Snow Crowley, who succeeded Fred I. Luce. Since the Incorporation of the Town in 1883, Mr. Luce was the only person to serve the elected position longer than Maureen. She served for twenty-nine years. Maureen was then reelected to the position until the final year of the century when she announced her retirement at the end of her term in November 2000.
Maureen is known to have kept her youthful virtues in serving as Town Clerk. The local High School yearbook, Oceana 1957, described Maureen as an “agreeable personality, hard worker and always coming up with great ideas for the benefit of the Class”
In the 1982 Town Report, after her first term as Town Clerk, Maureen reported that “the position of Town Clerk is challenging and enjoyable.
Throughout her tenure as Town Clerk, Maureen greeted citizens as “Honey” and “Dear”. These terms of endearment will remain as her trademark, a part of the legacy she gave to the citizens while conducting Town Business. She was available at any hour to serve the people’s needs whether people needed hunting, fishing, or marriage licenses and other requests required of the office. She was not one to back away from controversies or pressures brought on by other elected officials or politicians. She knew her job well and fulfilled her obligations. She placed her faith and dedication in the voters who elected her year after year. She was challenged in her post the last two elections of her service and each time was victorious by wide margins.
She leaves as a model of dedication to public service for all future elected Town Clerks. She strongly believes that the position and responsibilities of the Town Clerk should be left to voters to elect the official to serve in that capacity and not as an appointment of other elected or appointed officials.
Outside of her professional work, Maureen is also a gourmet cook. She thrives on cooking and sharing recipes of her hereditary Middle Eastern and Irish dishes as many of her former ballot clerks and coworkers, family, and friends can attest.
Maureen and her husband, Anthony, a native of Ireland, never had children. However, they undertook the family responsibility of rearing their teenage niece and nephew, Kathleen and Michael Geyer, following the death of their parents, Maureen’s sister Beverly and her husband, Thomas.
To Maureen, we say THANK YOU for the many years of public service and dedication to “your town and its citizens” as we close the books on the Twentieth Century.”
During her retirement published a family cookbook Titled ”When I’m Gone---You Can Still Eat!”
Anyone who met Maureen was instantly drawn to her. She had a warmth about her that was like no other. Anyone who entered her home was treated like family and you never left her table hungry as she was the best cook around. Maureen loved her family and her countless friends which gave her the will to fight as long as she did. Maureen’s parties and holiday gatherings were exceptional, just like the person she was. She was beautiful inside and out and there isn’t a person she encountered who doesn’t have a fond memory of her.
Besides her parents, Beverly and her husband Thomas. Maureen was also predeceased by her sister Evelyn and husband Thomas Coffey, her brother, Joseph Dorgan Mokarzel and his wife Anita Romano Mokarzel and another sister Patricia Mokarzel.
Surviving her besides her husband, Anthony, niece and nephew, Kathleen and Michael Geyer and his wife Janessa of Saco, are nieces Maureen and Lisa Mokarzel; nephews John J. Mokarzel and Dennis Coffey all of Old Orchard Beach.
Visitation will be from 4-7 PM on Monday, August 28, 2023, at the Dennett Craig & Pate Funeral Home, 365 Main Street, Saco. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated in St. Margaret’s Church at 11:00 AM, Tuesday, August 29, 2023 corner of Saco Avenue and Old Orchard Street in Old Orchard Beach. Arrangements are under the supervision of the OLD ORCHARD BEACH FUNERAL HOME.