Michaline (Marge) Elko of Clark, N.J. (nearly 103 years young!) passed quietly into God’s hands on August 21, 2019, at the St. Joseph Senior Center in Woodbridge, N.J.
Born Michaline Rajkowski on September 11, 1916, Marge was the second daughter and the last remaining sibling in a family of 13 children. She grew up in Elizabeth, N.J., where she met and married the love of her life, Michael Elko, on August 15, 1941. The two spent most of the next three years apart, as World War II saw Mike carrying out his Navy duties in the South Pacific while Marge worked and kept the home fires burning at her parent’s home in Elizabeth.
Marge’s prayers for the safe return of her husband and brothers were answered. After the war she and Mike continued their life together, buying a home in Clark, N.J. and raising their one son, Robert, there. An excellent seamstress, Marge was known for her beautiful hand-sewn clothes and total commitment to “looking good” at all times–you could ring her doorbell at 8 a.m. and know you would be greeted by a meticulously dressed woman in skirt and heels, with lipstick on and hair done! She generously lent her sewing skills to others, whether it was hemming clothes, sewing baptismal bibs, or making Halloween costumes for her two precious grandchildren, Andrew and Elizabeth.
By the time her son reached high school Marge was ready to shed her stay-at-home status for a job at Schering-Plough in Union, where she worked until retirement age. That’s when her 9-to-5 was traded in for morning mass at St. Agnes Church, weekly trips to Atlantic City, days at the beach, social activities in town and at church, and active participation in the lives of her son and his wife, Pat. She was “Grandma Marge” to their extended family, too—enjoying get-togethers and holiday celebrations not just with her son and grandchildren but with Pat’s sister Kathy, her brother-in-law Bobby, and their two children, Christopher and Annie.
When asked the secret to her long life Marge was quick to answer: Strong faith, a wonderful family, close friends—and a glass of wine at dinner every night! Marge was a devoted parishioner of St. Agnes; the best mother-in-law a woman could ask for; the proudest grandparent on the planet (who knew there were two kids who could do no wrong?) and a cherished friend to many. She welcomed the spouses of her grandkids (Stacie and Jerry) into the fold and never got tired of telling stories about her beautiful two great-grandchildren, Eva and Micah.
Marge had a resilient spirit that carried her through the bumps in life, including the death of her husband and siblings. Whatever her age and whatever the circumstances, Marge would pull herself together and get-up-and-go whenever an opportunity came along—be it riding the Clark senior citizen bus on a trip to go shopping, attending township events , or accepting a last-minute dinner invitation. At home, her large-screen TV was glued to Yankee and Giants’ games, as well as evening favorites like Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune.
Marge did daily morning exercises right up to the end, keeping herself in shape and mobile well past the age of most of her peers. Who but Marge would be able to live alone in her own home right up until the last few months of her 102+ years? Even her move to St. Joseph was smooth, as Marge adjusted well to her new living arrangement. She enjoyed the close care of the terrific St. Joseph staff, made new friends, played bingo three times a week, and of course made it to the on-premises hairdresser every Friday, as was her custom.
Marge was one-of-a-kind personality: a devoted daughter, wife, mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother (a.k.a. “GiGi.”) We know she is looking down on us, holding hands with her beloved Mike and raising a glass to toast a simple life well-lived, with faith and love and purpose. Her spirit lives on, but her presence on our earth will surely be missed.
Relatives and friends are kindly invited to attend the Funeral on Saturday August 24, 2019, at 8:30 am, from the Krowicki Gorny Memorial Home 211 Westfield Ave., Clark, thence to St. Agnes R.C. Church, Clark, where a Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 9:45 am. Interment, St. Gertrude Cemetery, Colonia. Visitation Friday from 3- 7 pm. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to St. Joseph Senior Home, 1-3 St. Joseph’s Terrace, Woodbridge, N.J. 07095 or to St. Agnes Church, 332 Madison Hill Road, Clark, N.J., 07066.