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Marie Catherine Clarke Losh

Dedicated teacher and missionary, loving mother and grandmother

On the evening of February 5, 2015, Marie Catherine Clarke Losh died peacefully in her home at Pilgrim Place from complications of multiple myeloma. She was 89 years old.

She was born in Mishiwaka, Indiana on November 18, 1925 to Maybelle Pfaff Clarke and the Reverend Arthur Morrow Clarke, an American Baptist minister. The third of five children, Marie grew up in Brookings, South Dakota and Boone, Iowa, graduated as valedictorian from her high school and attended Ottawa University in Kansas, where she met her future husband, Kenneth Palmer Losh. They married in 1946.

Mrs. Losh was a lifelong teacher and minister’s wife. After serving with the First Baptist Church in Anderson, Indiana—where their children Laurie, Wendy, Peter and Peggy were born—the Loshes were called as missionaries to Central Philippine University in Iloilo City and the family moved there in 1957.  Ken began a 10-year term as university chaplain while Marie became a mover and shaker in education, teaching multiple grade levels and playing a key role in the creation of a new elementary school for students with college aspirations. She still found the time to host large functions for the university and entertain guests with legendary multi-course meals.

In 1968, the Losh family returned to the United States, settling in La Verne. Mrs. Losh worked for the Bonita Unified School District, tutoring students unable to attend regular classes, often inviting them into her own home as extended members of the household. She recorded for the blind, anchored the alto section of the church choir and spoke at church women’s groups on a range of subjects.

The Loshes moved to Fallbrook in 1984 when Rev. Losh was offered the pastorate of Fallbrook United Methodist Church. Mrs. Losh served as church secretary and “ran the man who ran the church” until the couple’s retirement to Pilgrim Place in 1993. They soon became cherished fixtures in the Pilgrim Place community while maintaining a full calendar of volunteer activities and helping to raise their grandchildren who lived nearby. 

Marie is most remembered for her selflessness and dedication to others: instilling the love of music and reading in hundreds of children, singing in the church choir for nearly six decades, volunteering with Habitat for Humanity, donating gallons of blood and plasma and delivering Meals on Wheels, even as her own health began to fail. At Pilgrim Place she was “Mrs. Miscellaneous,” devoting five hours of labor to clean a second-hand kitchen pan to ensure that it would sell for a few dollars and performing her celebrated sketches at Comedy Night. She read each Friday to Pitzer Lodge residents, never missing an appointment, and was involved in every Pilgrim Festival during her residency, even in the final months of her life.

To her children she was tireless and indestructible. She prepared all meals from scratch, baking homemade bread that drew a throng of teenage friends to the kitchen and sewing clothes and costumes, even if it kept her up all night. She organized the family into a singing ensemble, teaching her children to read music and sing four-part harmony. Throughout her life she wrote stories and poetry, from the silly and nonsensical to the witty and thought-provoking.

She is survived by her sister Dorothy Grinstead and brother John Clarke; by her children, Laurie, Peter, Peggy and Janet; and by 10 grandchildren, five great-grandchildren and numerous nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her husband Ken in 1998 and by her daughter Wendy, brother Arthur Clarke and sister Francis Patterson.

A celebration of Marie Losh’s life will be held on Sunday, February 15 at 3 p.m. at Claremont United Methodist Church, located at 211 W. Foothill Blvd. in Claremont. Memorial contributions may be directed to the Pilgrim Place Centennial Fund, 625 Mayflower Road, Claremont, CA 91711.

 

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