Albert Schweitzer once wrote, "To affirm life is to deepen, to make more inward, and to exalt the will to live." Eve Marion Hyland, the 93-year-old mother of Mount Vernon District Supervisor Gerald W. Hyland, exalted that "will to live" right up until March 6, 2005.
"Her wit and intellect were as sharp as ever. But, the body finally just gave out," said Gerry Hyland of the mother he described as, "12 feet tall to all of us," her five children. Eve Hyland's actual height was five feet.
Born June 2, 1911 in Gilbertville, Mass., she passed away at The Meadows at New Horizons, Marlboro, Mass., after a series of illnesses. She was predeceased by her husband Maurice H. Hyland in 1959 and one daughter, Cecile H. Gelardi, in 1996.
Among her five children were two sets of boy-girl twins of which Gerry Hyland is one. His twin sister Carole A. (Sullivan) Santos resides in Hilton Head, SC. Her other surviving children are M. Theodore Hyland, Framingham, Mass., and Christine M. Taylor, West Boyleston, Mass.
She, herself, was the last survivor of eight children born to her parents, Peter Shimkus and Helen Lapinski, who immigrated to this country from Lithuania. Her deceased siblings are: Peter Shimkus, William Shimkus, Frank Shimkus, Daniel Shimkus, Theodore Shimkus, Albina Shimkus and Cecile Daly.
"Four of her brothers were members of the Massachusetts State Police with one being a colonel. Her youngest sister was a colonel in the U.S. Air Force. That's who I stayed with when I came here to study law," Hyland said.
"Mom actually raised us because Dad was always working. He had two jobs. He was a golf pro. In fact that is how they met," he said. "She wanted to learn to play golf so a friend of hers suggested she go to see Dad. And, the rest is history," Hyland said.
UPON GRADUATION from the Salter School, she worked several years for the New England Telephone Company. While raising her family, she operated Hyland's Pitch and Putt in Worcester with her husband. Following that she served several years as a medical secretary at the Worcester Memorial Hospital, retiring in 1979.
"Everywhere she went she would immediately take charge. Whenever she came to visit us, she'd decide what needed to be done and do it. Originally I tried to change that. Then, we gave up and let her go. If we didn't like the changes we'd change it back after she left," he said.
"She was a tough love kind of person. She always said what was on her mind. Her advice about doing things was 'Don't wait for thanks. Just do what you have to do and get on with it.' Stories about her are legion," Hyland said.
"But she was always there for all of us. We weren't a family of means but she pushed us to excel. She pushed me to act on the stage and take singing and tap dance lessons along with my sister. I'd go from football practice to singing lessons," he recalled.
"She said it was very important to learn to stand before people and speak and perform. She was a very strong woman. But, also very kind and giving. She loved people and was fun to be around. Even people in the nursing home, during her last days, commented on how much of a people person she was," Hyland said.
PRIOR TO RETURNING to her native Massachusetts last year, Mrs. Hyland had lived in Marietta, Ga., for 20 years, and Hilton Head, S.C., the previous five years. "She moved to Georgia, even as a Republican Yankee, to get away from the cold winters," Hyland said.
And, she brought that New England bluntness with her. "When Newt Gingrich's Congressional district was changed, she became one of his constituents. He rented an apartment in her complex but he was never there," Hyland said.
"She'd call me one time and said he was just a carpetbagger. I asked her how she could say that when she moved from the North. Her answer was that he should be there if he was going to represent them. Whatever came into her head, she said," he recalled.
"Mom was very well read and a whiz at crossword puzzles. She had a vocabulary that wouldn't quit. She knew words I didn't even know with a law degree. She was adamant about education," Hyland said.
"When I was in my teens, I had an invitation to join the golf circuit. My Dad would have really liked that since he was a golf pro. But, she said no. You will get an education. That is what will serve you best in life she insisted," Hyland said.
On Friday, March 11, a funeral mass was held at Saint Mary's Catholic Church in Jefferson, Mass., for Eve Marion Hyland. In addition to her children, she is survived by 10 grandchildren, four great grandchildren, several nieces and nephews as well as many friends.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in her memory to United Community Ministries, 7511 Fordson Road, Alexandria, VA 22306. Phone: 703-768-7106.