Marsha E. (Harkins) Balestrieri, age 52, of Wilmington, passed away peacefully surrounded by her family on August 27, 2013, following a long and courageous battle with cancer.
Marsha was born on October 6, 1960, at the Portsmouth Naval Hospital in Virginia, she was the cherished daughter of John J. and Sylvia S. (Rosen) Harkins. Following her dad’s discharge from the Navy, Marsha moved with her family to Cambridge and Somerville as a youngster before settling in Wilmington, where she was raised and educated.
Marsha continued her education at North Shore Community College and earned her degree as a Certified Occupational Therapist Assistant (COTA). She worked as a COTA at the On Broadway Nursing Center in Chelsea where her dedication and compassion for her patients was unwavering. Marsha’s kindness and caring ways made her a great success in her field.
Always a “go-getter”, Marsha loved to be active and fit so she turned her athletic ability into a second profession and opened and operated her own aerobics center. Marsha was talented as an instructor she was often sought out by private corporations.
Marsha’s love for children also led to another career as a certificated daycare provider
Marsha married her love, Gary Balestrieri on May 26, 1979 celebrating more than 34 years together. It was a love story, a fairly tale marriage. Marsha and Gary soon had two great kids Tamie and Gregory, she loved being a mother, always there to support her children, watch them grow, and was very proud of the adults they had become. When Marsha became a “mother-in-law” to Jessica and David, she treated them as her own and they loved her dearly. Marsha cherished her role as a “Mimi”. Whenever Alessandra and Tyler were around, she gathered the strength and courage to get down on the ground and play, especially dress up. They brought so much joy to her life. Marsha was anxiously awaiting the birth of her grandson Cole Joseph, to give love and hugs to another grandchild.
In her spare time, Marsha loved to read, especially celebrity magazines. She would frequent craft fairs and shows dragging anyone along who would be willing to go. For everyone who knew Marsha, let’s not forget about the daily trip or trips to Dunkin Donuts for her hot tea in the winter and her coffee coolata’s in the summer, it was all about the cup.
Marsha will be fondly remembered for her dedication to her family and friends, her love of children, and love of animals, especially her sheltie dogs. She was kind, caring, and a pillar of strength, Marsha fought a long, hard battle with cancer beating the odds and making the most of her life. Marsha showed so much courage, never giving up, and leaving a wonderful legacy, her family who will miss her forever.
Marsha was the beloved wife of Gary E. Balestrieri, devoted mother of Tamie Harris & her husband David of Tewksbury and Gregory Balestrieri & his wife Jessica of North Andover, loving “Mimi” of Alessandra and Tyler Harris and was looking forward to the birth of her grandson Cole Joseph Balestrieri, cherished daughter of John J. and Sylvia S. (Rosen) Harkins of Maine, dear sister of Debra Harkins & her husband William Balint of Newton, sister-in-law of Joseph and Dorothy Balestrieri, aunt of Joseph Melville, Glen Balestrieri and Wendi Balkan. Marsha is also survived by many aunts, uncles, cousins and friends.
Family and friends will gather for a Funeral Service at the Nichols Funeral Home, 187 Middlesex Ave. (Rt. 62), Wilmington, on Friday, August 30th at 10:30 a.m. Interment to follow in Wildwood Cemetery. Visiting hours will be held on Thursday, August 29th, 2013 from 4 -7 p.m. Memorial donations in Marsha’s name can be made to the Adenoid Cystic Carcinoma Research Foundation, P.O. Box 442, Needham, MA 02494.