Maureen Hayden Pieri

Maureen Hayden Pieri

1929 – 2017

Maureen Hayden Pieri. Courtesy of the Pieri family.

Maureen Kathleen Hayden was born on May 22, 1929 in Somerset, Massachusetts to
William Hayden and Bertha Blake Hayden. The 6th of 8 children, she had 3 sisters and 4 brothers.

Mom grew up in the Great Depression. She always said that everything they ate came from her mother’s garden. We’re pretty sure stewed tomatoes were a main staple in her house. She always remembered, with love, how her mom would work late into the night, canning the vegetables from the garden, mending clothes, taking apart an older child’s garment and re-making it, so it was just a little different, to be handed down to the next one.

Mom always spoke fondly of her school years, and her teachers. She would laugh
remembering and reciting her squad cheers from her time on the cheerleading team where she lettered at Somerset High. After graduation from high school, mom set her sights skyward. Wanting to be a stewardess, she attended Rhode Island School of Nursing, because in those days you needed to be a registered nurse first. But it was in nursing school where she found her calling. She would always say she was a nurse back when nurses wore black stockings. (And yes, we all learned how to make our beds with hospital corners.)

While at nursing school, she met and brought home to her Irish family, Lou Pieri. Not only was he an Italian from Pawtucket, he was a graduate from URI’s School of Animal Husbandry who wore cowboy boots. The family could probably handle him being Italian, but those boots…there was chatter. Well, with Dad’s beautiful smile, joy, and tenderness, the Italian thing and even the cowboy boots were soon overlooked. It was during this time that her family moved from Somerset to Tiverton, Rhode Island.

Mom and Dad were married August 8, 1953 in the Rectory of St. Christopher’s in
Tiverton. Mom was a Catholic and Dad was a Baptist and in 1953 they were not allowed to be married inside the church. Mom loved her Catholic faith and always said that Dad made her a better Catholic. For 62 years he was her right hand man. They were an incredible team and did everything together.

They moved to a dairy farm in Southborough, Massachusetts where Dad tended the Maternity Barn and Mom ran a boarding house. After the birth of their first child, Paul, they started looking for a farm of their own, looking as far north as Maine. While Dad was away with the Army Reserve, mom was staying with her parent’s in Tiverton. Going to a painting class with her mother, she met Mary Jane Peckham, of Peckham’s Greenhouse, who asked if they had looked for farmland in Little Compton. Until then, Mom hadn’t even heard of Little Compton.

After having met with Mrs. Shethar of Shethar Real Estate, it didn’t take long for her to fall in love with Little Compton and the people that lived here. Mary Jane, was just the first of many dear friends that mom would come to know and love here. So, in 1955, Mom and Dad established their dairy farm and named it Maurolou Farm. She always said the farm was a gift from God, and she made sure, as they raised their 7 children on it, that this gift was shared over the years, from hosting Fresh Air Children in the 1960’s, St Vincent DePaul orphanage day trips, the use of the hay loft as a basketball court for the school while the gym was being built, welcoming battered women into their home, offering the house and farm as a retreat center for St. Patrick’s Word of God Community, to an annual BBQ for over 30 years with the patrons of McAuley House.

She was involved with the PTA at Wilbur School, was a Boy Scout Den Mother, and St. Catherine’s was her parish. She loved the parish dearly and was very involved there for over 60 years. When her children were young she taught CCD and would voice her concerns to Dad that she was sure she saw Father scowling at something she did or said. Dad would grin and tell her not to worry, it would surely come out in the Sunday sermon. She helped with the church Bazaars, and CYO, was a member of the Altar Rosary Society, and the Flower Committee. She was a volunteer with the SPRED program and Circle of Friends.

Mom had an incredible work ethic, handed down from her mother. She was a believer in being part of a family, so as kids there was no such thing as an allowance system. Chores were done simply as part of being a productive member of the family. In addition to the usual daily chores, we were also enlisted into Spring and Fall cleaning where we learned how to steel wool the wooden floors, and rub and polish them with Butcher’s wax, take down the curtains, wash and iron them, and put them back up only after the windows had all been thoroughly cleaned and even reglazed when necessary. All 365 days of the year mom could always be found deep into the night, in the basement doing laundry, ironing, and starching clothes.

Mom was creative, compassionate, and generous. She dedicated her life to God, family, and neighbor. She was the first to say that she couldn’t do anything without the Grace of God, her family, an army of her dear friends who always pitched in when asked, and of course “My Lou”. He was the “Wind Beneath Her Wings.” and the Sun rose and set on her which is why we never heard him tell her no. Whether it was something as simple as, “Daddy, would you like to go for ice cream?”, or one time when they were in Chicago, “Daddy, is Louis’s house in Maine on our way home from here?”, he would always simply say, “yes”.

If there was a need she would fill it. If there was money to be raised for a cause, she would raise it. And dad was not the only one who couldn’t tell her no. We’re pretty sure she invented the art of the “Volun-told”. Mom put on some great musicals as fundraisers when we were kids. When the school gym stage needed a curtain she managed to talk a group of men from town into dressing up as women and singing and dancing as one of the acts. One of them was heard to say “I wouldn’t do this for anyone else in the world but Maureen.” She was a March of Dimes area chair. She organized CROP walks for hunger. For a time, she and Dad showed movies in the school gym for the kids in town on Saturdays. Once she emptied the house out of furniture, china, knick knacks, you name it, to sell in order to raise money for the Vietnamese orphans.

She met a beautiful Hmong family in the late 1970s. They needed a house. She
collected the women’s incredible pieces of hand stitched art work, had a quilt made, and raffled it off. The raffle made just enough for what the family needed towards the house. Mom always trusted in God’s Divine Providence, and never asked for more. “He” could never tell her no either.

Years ago, she felt the youth in town needed a place to congregate, so the pastor at St. Catherine’s let her fix up the church hall and put in pool tables. She dedicated her life to caring for others in both large and small ways. She loved bringing her grandchildren to sing and make crafts with and for the folks at the Adult Day Care located at, what is now, the Wellness Center. She was still baking and visiting the sick, shut-ins, and what she called “my elderly” into her 80s. When we would try to tell her she was the elderly, she would laugh and say, “Oh, you’re so fresh.”

Mom loved the beauty in nature, flowers, and music. Our naps were taken to classical music playing softly in the background. She rocked many a baby to sleep with a lullaby, letting them know they were loved and safe. There was dancing like ballerinas with her children in the sitting room, and countless sleepovers in the living room with her grandchildren.

She always sang on car rides. She had a medley of tunes, but the Rosary was always prayed first, and then the tunes were let loose, as she and dad would sing complete with harmony.

The repertoire of tunes moved out of the car and into the living room as the family grew and the grandchildren arrived, and now these grandchildren are singing these tunes to their children, and these little ones are starting to sing along.

Over the years, mom managed to squeeze in her nursing skills, from fixing up children, farm animals, and neighbors, to working in town for Peg Oliveira at Mar-Com. Countless were touched by her care, and compassion. Mom couldn’t stand to see anyone or anything suffering. She had a strong, stubborn love for the sick, the grieving, the poor, the homeless, the lonely, and the innocent.

She inspired and encouraged the next generation, her 21 grandchildren, with their work, encouraged them through their schooling, and took a keen interest in their passions. When she traveled, it was for them. It was to see a school play, a recital, a premier, a softball, baseball, basketball, or football game, a graduation, or to celebrate a birthday, or some other milestone. These grandchildren have brought their grammy’s unconditional love, patience, and caring into their workplaces. She inspired them to make a difference in others’ lives.

She spread love everywhere, and passed it down through the generations. No doubt her great grandchildren (10 of them at present) will know and love her through the stories shared.

Mom taught by example and her faith was her Hallmark. If you were struggling, Mom would tell you “Let go, and let God.” If you were suffering, Mom would encourage you to “Offer it up for the Greater Good.” If you were misunderstood by the world, Mom would say, “It only matters what God knows.”

So many people said of her, she was the nicest person they ever met.

…and she would be horrified to know that we wrote this.

A compilation by Maureen’s daughters and granddaughters.

April 2020

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One thought on “Maureen Hayden Pieri

  1. Beautiful story about a Beautiful person. Will always fondly remember time spent at the Pieri farm in LC, and road trips to Maine.

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