Former Wakefield resident, Marge Chiei died peacefully on February 23, 2021 at Providence Alaska Medical Center in Anchorage. She was 96 years old.
Marjorie May (Edwards) Chiei was born at home in Wakefield, Rhode Island on August 6, 1924 to Olive and Richard Edwards.
Her father, a stone engraver, died when Marge was just two years old. After her father’s death, her grandfather, Dr. Oliver E. Stedman, insisted that she, her sister and her mother move back home to the family farmhouse on Winter Street.
Marge and her older sister, Grace grew up in their grandparent’s house and took part in the farm chores on the homestead. Their grandfather, who acted as a father to the girls, was a farmer that went on to become a dentist in the local community. His office, opened in 1906, was above his brother’s grocery store on Main Street (L.W. Stedman Grocery).
Marge was a graduate of South Kingstown High School. Afterwards, she attended nursing school and served as a nurse’s aid at a local hospital during World War II.
She met her husband, Fred Chiei, at a local dance in 1944. They were married three months later, on Thanksgiving Day. Ironically, a Catholic priest refused to marry them because Marge wasn’t Catholic and he was sure it wouldn’t work. So, instead they were married at her family home by her Methodist minister and were together for 57 years, until Fred’s death in 2002.
After the war, Marge and Fred relocated to New Jersey where Fred, an engineer, rose in the ranks of management with Radio Corporation of America (RCA). A short time after, they were transferred to Alaska where Fred was tasked with overseeing the White Alice Communications operations for RCA.
They arrived in 1960, thinking they would be in Alaska for two years but ultimately stayed there for the rest of their lives.
Marge and Fred were deeply involved in their community throughout their lives. Marge was a member of the Mayflower Society, she served as the board chair of the Girl Scouts Susitna Council and was active in many community groups and events.
Marge was a dedicated homemaker - never conceding to a dishwasher or clothes dryer in the house. She wanted life to be the way she knew it as a child and held onto that belief in every way possible.
She liked to sew, cook, had a green thumb, was a devout follower of conservative politics, but most of all, she was a loving and supportive wife.
In her later years, she treasured listening to radio programs, watching her bird feeder and having a glass of merlot on the deck on a summer day.
Marge was extremely proud of her family lineage which traces back to George Soule, Mayflower passenger in 1620.
Marge is proceeded in death by her grandparents; Dr. Oliver E. Stedman and Pheobe Carey Stedman, parents; Richard and Olive Edwards, her sister Grace Dykstra, her cousin John Stedman and husband Fred Chiei.
Marge is survived by her cousin Jane (Dick) Hendricks, nieces and nephews: Kathy Toth, Carl (Marie) Dykstra, Roger (Vicky) Chiei, Mary (Mike) Knabel, and Chris (Melissa) Chiei.
Marge’s ashes will be interred at her family’s plot (Edwards) at the Riverside Cemetery in Wakefield, Rhode Island.