Mary Rayner

Mary Rayner

1930 - 2023

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Obituary of Mary Rayner

Mary Rayner spent her final days surrounded by family and passed away in her home on January 31, 2023. She left this world after 92 years, surely looking forward to being reunited with her husband, Charlie, who passed less than six months earlier. Mary Julia Miezejeski was born in 1930, the youngest of Vincent and Anna Miezejeski’s 13 children. She lived most of her long life on the land her Polish immigrant parents settled in Deep River. She treasured her corner of that beautiful little valley so much, deeply appreciating how special it was, often calling it “paradise.” She and her lifelong sweetheart, Charlie Rayner, lived in that spot for 66 of their 75 years together, and they were both lucky enough to live in their home there until they died, as they had hoped to. Graduating at the top of her class in high school, Mary excelled in many things, especially art and softball. She joined every club and activity she could, taking advantage of all that she could get involved in and learn from. She developed a love for photography at an early age, when she got her first camera from an employer at fifteen years old. Through the decades, she took many iconic, funny, and poignant photos of the family, which have been absolutely treasured by generation after generation. Mary met Charlie on the picket line at a strike at the Pratt-Read factory in 1947. She was just about to turn 17, and he was almost 20. They married in 1948 and had the first of their eight children the next year. As their family grew, she and Charlie certainly had their hands full raising so many children. How they survived 8 teenagers is a miracle! Their children put them through just about everything imaginable, yet Charlie and Mary were always there for them when they needed it most. They were generous beyond compare with love and affection for their family. Mary guided her children with love, patience and, at times, much-needed discipline. Sometimes all it took to get her point across was one of her looks, along with just a few choice words. As her children grew up, she had an open mind and was able to adapt to new realities when the ways of the world, and her kids, changed. Charlie and Mary acknowledged the unique qualities of each of their children, supporting them in their individual paths in life. Mary had a tremendous, quiet strength that was just part of her nature. She had a strong constitution, both physically and emotionally. She was adaptive and capable in the face of challenges, and she was able to endure hardships with perseverance and patience. Mary worked so hard to keep her family comfortable—sometimes working the “mother’s shift” at night—after caring for the house and kids all day and feeding the family dinner—until there were no longer any young children at home, and she could take on a day job. She rarely got angry, and the worst thing she would call somebody when she got frustrated with someone was “jerk.” Mary was a great mentor to generations of young people. She was a listener, always patient and thoughtful, and encouraged kids in all they tried to do. It is truly impossible to imagine how many books she read to children in her lifetime, how many projects were accomplished with her guidance, how many plants were grown, or how many artworks and flower arrangements were created, inspired by her appreciation of craft and her innate artistic eye. She and Charlie did so many things to make life for kids more fun and magical. They filled their porch with toys and books and art supplies that were enjoyed by generation after generation. Mary shared with Charlie a curiosity about the world, with eyes open to discovering joy in even the littlest details of life that unfold around us everywhere, all the time. Mary deeply appreciated nature, and she opened her children’s eyes to the wonder and beauty she saw in the land, the sky, the water, the plants, the flowers, the animals and especially the birds she loved to watch. At the Rayner house, family occasions were happily shared with generations of friends joining them around the table. When her children's friends or cousins visited, which was often, Mary would repeatedly check to make sure that everyone was happy and well fed. The house was variously filled with the comforting smells of roasted chicken, spaghetti, cookies, flowers, hot cocoa, or freshly washed laundry. Mary treasured her family above all else. She was so sweet and generous with her love and nurturing. There was nothing so comforting as being held in one of her warm, gentle hugs. She carried that love from her kids on through to her grandkids and great grandkids—they all brought her so much joy! And when they were with her, they felt like they were in the most safe and loving place in the world. Babies were always completely at home, loved and secure in her arms. There was something about how her arms cradled them, how she swaddled them, how she put them out on the porch all wrapped up for a nap, saying the fresh air was the key to good sleep. Every crocheted afghan she made for her family will be treasured forever as an enduring symbol of her warm, loving comfort. Mary is survived by her children Charlie Jr., Janet, Beverly, Bob, Leslie, and Mark Rayner; her 10 grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren. She was predeceased by her husband Charlie, her daughter Linda, her son Michael, and her 9 brothers and 3 sisters. A private memorial service will be held at a future date. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Connecticut Children’s Medical Center in Hartford.

Private Memorial Service

A private memorial service will be held at a future date.