UPDATED Nov. 1: Two days after Arlington’s Select Board honored its longtime administrator, Marie A. (Spelman) Krepelka has died.
At the board’s Oct. 24 meeting, members and town staff expressed adoration for the administrator – known informally as Arlington's “mayor”-- thanking her for 63 years of service.
In a news release, the town reported that Krepelka died on Wednesday, Oct. 26.
Treated for cancer for many years, she was 82.
Born in Arlington to Thomas and Mary Spelman, Marie called Arlington home for her entire life. Her 63 years of service to the town will "likely never be surpassed," an obituary from the DeVito Funeral Home says.
"She was fiercely loyal and proud of her community," it says. "Marie maintained a wealth of institutional and historical knowledge of Arlington, which she shared with all her constituents. She served the town with her own personal dignified style and brought a warm caring presence to Town Hall. Simply put, Marie made Arlington a better place for everyone.
"Marie’s favorite day of the year was Arlington’s Annual Town Day, which she chaired for many years. On that day, she could watch the entire Arlington community come together as one and celebrate the home that she loved."
Supported police, fire
The obituary notes that she was an ardent supporter of the Arlington Fire Department, Arlington Police Department, Arlington Boys and Girls Club, and numerous Catholic Charities.
Wife of the late Robert F. Krepelka and mother of Paul M. Krepelka and Stephen T. Krepelka and his wife, Heather, all of Arlington, she was the grandmother of Madeline, Julia and Isabelle, and sister of Paul T. Spelman and the late Joan Dusoe. She is also survived by many nieces and nephews.
ACMi records those remembering Marie:
Board chair, manager comment
“Marie was so beloved by all on the Select Board staff and those of us on the Select Board because we could trust her, count on her and, most importantly, learn from her,” Len Diggins, chair of the Select Board, said in the release. “Her depth of knowledge and her authenticity made her a most valuable asset to the Select Board and the Arlington community. Though we will miss her, we are very fortunate that she was a part of our lives.”
At the Oct. 24 meeting, Diggins said: “One of my best times with her was in 2019, when I asked her to sit down with me over the warrant issues. We went through all the articles, and she helped me understand the warrant better. She gave me a lot of background information and was always very welcoming. I’m grateful to her for the community that Arlington became.”
Town Manager Sandy Pooler said in the release: “Marie was a unique and powerful presence in Town Hall. In her over 60-year career working for Arlington, she hit her stride as the Select Board administrator, where she served with distinction, flair and style. I know I speak for many in saying that we will miss Marie and will hold her up as an example of a friend, colleague and ultimate dedicated town employee.”
Krepelka began work for Arlington in 1959, first as clerk and stenographer in the Department of Public Works and then in the town manager’s office in the mid-1960s as head clerk, working for Arlington’s first town manager, Edward Monahan.
Over the years she held roles in community safety (police and fire), and in the building department/inspectional services working on zoning, before taking on the role of Select Board administrator in September 2001.
As board administrator, she assisted the Select Board in its many duties and helped the public, showing her deep knowledge of how Arlington government worked to everyone who visited or called the Select Board office.
Comments at board meeting
The following officials commented at the Oct. 24 meeting.
Vice Chair Diane Mahon said: “She was a godsend when I came to the Board of Selectmen [in 1999], wearing all those different hats so fluidly. I love her so much; she’s definitely a strong woman, one of my mentors. She had her own mind and spoke it. I always marveled at what Marie, with a unique career for a woman, did so effortlessly.”
Steve DeCourcey: “One of the best aspects of being on the board was working with Marie from day one, with all her institutional knowledge of, and love for, the town. She worked with every town manager we’ve had since the Town Manager Act of 1964. During the pandemic, I enjoyed my visits to her, and when we used to talk together in our cars. In 2001, when my father and son were both in the hospital, she called every day.”
John Hurd: “As far back as I can remember, Marie was such a wealth of knowledge of all the ins and outs of Arlington. I could sit down with Marie and get the real story of what’s happening at Town Hall. I always enjoyed those conversations with her. Everything we got from her was solid gold. She’s such an easy person to talk to. When I first started on the board, she’d always guide me in the right direction.”
Eric Helmuth: “Nobody understands and loves Arlington like Marie. She worked for the town for 63 years; I don’t think that’ll ever be surpassed. Marie welcomes people who are just willing to do the work and get involved. She sought me out and encouraged me, and appreciated that someone wanted to get things done. Her texts and messages were always encouraging.”
Pooler noted: “Marie ...always made me feel welcome, and had many great stories. She’s a very caring and giving person. She and I were on different sides politically, yet I still have the little stuffed elephant that she gave me on my desk that I continue to cherish. I know that many people were much more likely to call the Select Board office about a tree down, and she was a master. I’ve appreciated knowing her all these years.”
Counsel, manager, public
Town Counsel Doug Heim: “Her marriage of knowledge and caring is unmatched. She lays down the truth to whoever would listen, and really cared for her neighbors. It’s hard to place a value on how she brings the stories of our town. Because of that, we’re all able to do our jobs, which was very important to her. She brought dignity and intelligence to the town. Marie, I’ll miss you very much.”
Office Manager Ashley Maher: “I’ve known her a long time and will miss her very much.”
During the meeting’s open forum, resident Steve Moore added, “Marie always put a warm and personal face on town government. When I first had dealings with her almost two decades ago, she was so helpful and could always explain the process.”
Former manager recalls
Asked to comment, former Town Manager Adam Chapdelaine wrote Oct. 27:
"When I think of Marie, I think first about her kind and welcoming presence. She was one of the first people that truly made me feel at home in Arlington. Marie was always willing to lend an ear or give advice, and it was always spot-on.
"The next thing I think of is Marie’s pride in the town and her pride in her family. Marie was always so proud of what a great town Arlington is. She was the town’s biggest booster for as long as I knew her. But perhaps more importantly, she was extremely proud of her family. You couldn’t have a conversation with her without hearing some great news about her sons or her grandchildren.
"She was such an important person and presence to so many of us, and the impact that she had on the town and its people will never be replicated."
Visiting hours, funeral
Relatives and friends are invited to visiting hours, set for Wednesday, Nov. 2, from 3 to 7 p.m., at St. Eulalia Parish, 50 Ridge St., Winchester, and to her funeral Mass at 10 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 3, in St. Eulalia Parish.
Please visit sainteulalia.org to view a live stream of the funeral Mass.
Burial to follow in Mount Pleasant Cemetery. In lieu of flowers please consider a donation in memory of Marie to: Arlington Police Relief Association, 112 Mystic St., Arlington, MA 02474 or Arlington Fire Relief Association, 291 Park Ave., Arlington, MA 02476.
Arrangements are under the care of DeVito Funeral Home of Arlington. Visit devitofuneralhome.com to view an online guestbook.
Watch the entire Oct. 24 meeting on ACMi:
This news announcement was published Thursday, Oct. 27, 2022, and is based on information from Joan Roman of the Town of Arlington and Susan Gilbert of YourArlington. It was updated Oct. 28, to add her age, the ACMi meeting video and the obituary.
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