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09/29/2023 04:48 PM

Mary Louise Herel

A shining light went dark on Sept. 20 with the passing of Mary Louise “Marylou” Herel, 83, of Centerbrook, following a long battle with cancer. Born Jan. 13, 1940, to the late Martha Molyneux Appell and Harold Appell, Marylou was raised in Old Saybrook. She married the love of her life, Robert Herel, on July 28, 1961. Together, the two built a home in Centerbrook, where they raised their children, Heath and Linda, and impacted the lives of countless others.

Generous with her time and love, Marylou was the best wife, mother, grandmother, aunt, neighbor, and friend anyone could ever ask for. From racing the steam train to eating ice cream cones in the snow to jumping off swings in the park, she found a way to make every day fun. If you needed anything and she had it, she would give it to you without hesitation, be it food out of her pantry or clothes out of her closet. She never turned away a child selling anything at her door, either. Cookies, wrapping paper, bags, popcorn — she bought it all with a smile. She took joy out of giving. She remembered every birthday, anniversary, and holiday and always showed up with food and gifts in hand.

While she made sure she was there for everyone, Marylou took special care to always show up for her family. In particular, her greatest joy was her grandchildren. Even though she hated peanut butter and fluff sandwiches, she would always share one with her grandsons and say it was the best thing she’d ever eaten. Even though she never ate any cookies, she spent hours upon hours baking hundreds with her granddaughters and thousands more for every child who entered her house. If you were one of these many children and stepped foot into her kitchen, you knew you’d be making memories. Maybe you’d be lined up at her counter, wearing a paper bag chef’s hat and an overly large apron, baking cookies. Maybe you’d be tossing the dough around in a crazy food fight. Or maybe you’d be making wacky milkshakes in her blender everyone would be too scared to taste. You might be playing cards at her table, coloring pictures together, or baking shrink art in her oven. But you always knew you were going to have fun and leave with a smile.

Marylou was a caring, compassionate soul. She was the kind of person who would sing badly on the phone on purpose, just to make you laugh. And she smiled through all her pain because she didn’t want anyone to worry. She held steadfastly to hope until the very end. Cancer did not beat her; she fought until her last breath, and she took cancer down.

In addition to her parents, Marylou was predeceased by her brothers, Wallace, Harold, Warren, and Eugene, and her sisters, Alice, Betty, and Ellen. Along with her beloved husband, Robert, she is survived by her son Heath Herel and wife Julie of Niantic; her daughter Linda (Herel) Tanabe and husband Kan of Deep River; the light of her life, her grandchildren: William and Collyn Herel, and Hana and Emma Tanabe; her sister Jane DiMauro of Old Saybrook; and many nieces and nephews. A memorial and burial will be held privately at the convenience of the family.