Honoring Mrs. Marie Crandall

Valerie Ferrara

What I am saying, dear brothers and sisters, is that our physical bodies cannot inherit the Kingdom of God. These dying bodies cannot inherit what will last forever. But let me reveal to you a wonderful secret. We will not all die, but we will all be transformed! It will happen in a moment, in the blink of an eye, when the last trumpet is blown. For when the trumpet sounds, those who have died will be raised to live forever. And we who are living will also be transformed. For our dying bodies must be transformed into bodies that will never die; our mortal bodies must be transformed into immortal bodies. Then, when our dying bodies have been transformed into bodies that will never die, this Scripture will be fulfilled:

“Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory?

O death, where is your sting?”

For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ. --1 Corinthians 15:50-56


The Chapel was standing room only and people were crowded into the area outside the Chapel doors; all were gathered to honor the life of Boston Trinity French teacher Mrs. Marie Crandall. “Although dreadfully painful, it is also ultimately good for us to know that our lives are not our own and that God operates in mysteries that we cannot fully understand,” began Mr. Frank Guerra. “It is appropriate today that we both mourn her passing and celebrate her life.”

After Mr. Guerra’s remarks, senior Yasmine Robinson spoke, confessing, “For me, her dying is like having a rug swept out from under my feet that I didn’t even know I was standing on.” Yasmine said she loved hearing stories about Mrs. Crandall’s years in Germany and about time she spent in Italy growing up. “She kindled in me a love for language that I will carry with me for the rest of my life,” Yasmine said. She quoted a line from the musical Hamilton: “Legacy. What is a legacy? It's planting seeds in a garden you never get to see.” For Ms. Crandall, Yasmine said, it was never about what she would reap, but always about what she could sow. “I don’t know whether Mrs. Crandall will be able to see the results of the seeds she planted from where she is, but I hope so. I hope she knows that she left her mark on the world, and made it better,” Yasmine concluded. “Ms. Cran, Madame, Mrs. Crandall, Marie – that wonderful woman has departed from us. But her legacy of love will live on.”

Academic Prefect Paul Chin spoke next. As Academic Prefect, Paul worked closely with Mrs. Crandall, who was advisor for the Academic Council. “It is my privilege to share with you some reflections about her today,” Paul began. He compared the small things she said and did to “precious gems” of remembering. Paul said he was so grateful for the beautiful life that Mrs. Crandall lived. “These memories that I have of her, although sad, are also living reminders inside me of what it means to be selfless and kind in all things.” He ended his remarks by asking,

“How should we go forth from here? How can we continue on with such a big hole in our lives?” He told students he didn’t think we should ‘just try to move on with our lives.’

“The legacy of Mrs. Crandall lives on, continuing to bear fruit in the lives of many. So let her love, her spirit of kindness and gentleness, live on, filling our lives in our small actions and deeds and in the words we say and in the thoughts we think. Mrs. Crandall lived a beautiful life, reflecting the love of God, and that is a life worth living.”

A long-time friend of Mrs. Crandall, Ms. Judy Oulund addressed students, staff, and guests. She told a story:  A traveler passing through France encountered three laborers pushing carts.  When asked in what work they were engaged, the first replied, “I toil from sunup to sundown, and all I receive for my pains is a few francs a day.  The second answered, “It is very difficult work cutting rock, but I am learning the craft of polishing stones smoothly and the art of carving.  The third said, “I am building Chartres Cathedral.”

“Why do I tell you that story?” Ms. Oulund asked. “Because Mrs. Crandall was that third laborer…. Mrs. Crandall never was that first laborer.  She never lived a day just for a pay check – and while like the second laborer, she did indeed hone her craft of teaching, but her focus was never on that alone nor on complaining how hard her work was. She was indeed about the business of building a Chartres Cathedral.” Ms. Oulund spoke of Mrs. Crandall’s life before BTA: her work with Wycliff Bible Translators and her time at Stony Brook School on Long Island.

Speaking of Boston Trinity, Ms. Oulund said Mrs. Crandall “loved this place. She was about cathedral building here with us and now looking back, I believe she always saw herself as a foundation builder.  She had great humility, integrity, linguistic talents, and above all, a great love for Jesus…. She planted such a huge number of seeds in our midst: seeds of beauty, integrity, loving our neighbor, and working to develop our talents.”

Ms. Oulund concluded by asking, “So where are we?  Consider again with me that ardent challenge from Abraham Lincoln at Gettysburg: ‘It is for us the living to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced.’ Mrs. Crandall was into cathedral building for the Glory of God. May we feel her push this day, this semester, and in our years to come.  I hope I never lose touch with her push on my life to draw closer to God.  She was my friend."