Marie Lucille (Kraber) Cawrse

March 27, 1944 - July 9, 2023

Marie Lucille (Kraber) Cawrse, age 79, died with dignity in her home by the Salish Sea in Port Townsend, WA, on July 9, 2023. A lifelong boater, Marie made the decision to slip the lines in the same way that she lived her life—with conviction, humor, and heart. The morning of her death, she donned an “Orcas Dammed to Extinction” t-shirt, stood in her deer-nibbled garden, and tilted her face to the sun before saying goodbye to her beloved family and a world that she found ever beautiful.

Born March 27, 1944, in Cleveland, OH, to Robert and Carol (Waelde) Kraber, Marie grew up with her older brother Bob in a family that delighted in music, story-telling, and the great outdoors. In college on a family boat trip to Cedar Point, the gas dock attendant asked Marie if she wanted to go sailing. She did. The next morning, Marie’s father was surprised to find the gas boy (who’d missed the dorm curfew) sleeping on the transom. Marie and Tom Cawrse married on December 27, 1965, after graduating from Miami University of Ohio, a “Miami Merger.”

In pursuit of adventure, the couple moved out west to Seattle (enter son John), San Diego (enter daughter Janna), and on to Yokosuka, Japan, where Tom was a dentist in the Navy and Marie helped sailors get their GEDs. They eventually settled in Mercer Island, WA, where they raised kids, raced Snipes, and cruised their iconic wooden boat, The Captain Teach. Marie was a court mediator, a Unity Lay Minister, and a Masters swimmer. She tended a beautiful rose garden. As a Camp Fire leader, Marie taught her charges how to make sit-upons and hang food from bears in the backcountry. Up until her death, Marie was a member of the Backpackin’ Mamas, a group of women who ventured into the Cascades and Olympics season after season, decade after decade. Sitting around a campfire, playing the uke, and harmonizing with friends was one of Marie’s greatest joys.

Marie and Tom retired to Port Townsend in 2012 and, soon after, Marie was diagnosed with cancer. About this chapter, Marie reflected: “In addition to experiencing life-saving surgeries, chemo infusions, and medical treatments (so many opportunities to meet compassionate caregivers!), I also enjoyed several remissions with almost a decade full of family, friends, granddaughters, neighbors, dogs, boats, books, talks, delicious meals, beautiful gardens, hikes, RVs, travel, laughter, joy, and love.”

Energetic and positive, Marie was an empathetic listener, a thoughtful speaker, and an advocate for people and planet. She flattened tin cans, kept “pet worms,” and chipper-shredded her own yard waste long before recycling and composting were in vogue. “Life is good” was a common refrain. Marie played Schumann’s Merry Farmer on her baby grand. She read poetry every morning as a form of meditation. She joined friends every evening to play fetch with her beloved poodle Annie. And she made her family feel loved.

Marie is survived and dearly remembered by her husband Tom; son John, daughter-in-law Amy, granddaughter Ava; daughter Janna, son-in-law Graeme, granddaughters Talia and Savai; and an abundance of family and friends. Marie enjoyed a “living memorial” during her last days, surrounded by flowers, notes, music, and photos from loved ones near and far. In accordance with her wishes, her body will rejoin the soil through Recompose and revisit some of her favorite places—Turn Point, Beards Hollow, the Elwha. Donations in Marie’s memory may be made to Unity Port Townsend or the Northwest Maritime Center. Or, in lieu of donations, Marie would tell you—with a big smile on her face—to just go take a hike!




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Recompose is a licensed, full-service, green funeral home in Seattle offering human composting. As the first human composting company in the world, we are a trusted leader in ecological death care. We are Seattle’s only human composting provider and serve clients across the U.S.

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Land Acknowledgement
Recompose acknowledges we make our lives and livelihoods on the lands of the Coast Salish People, specifically the Duwamish People. We honor with gratitude the Duwamish People past and present, the land itself, and the Duwamish Tribe. Colonization is an active, persistent process. Indigenous communities continue to be resilient in protecting their ecological and cultural lifeways and deathways despite ongoing oppression. Recompose respects, shares, and supports this commitment to climate healing and environmental justice. Join Recompose in contributing to Real Rent Duwamish.