Vivien Beirlein, February 11, 1920 – June 15, 2016, always hated her name, and yet it fit her perfectly. It means “full of life.” Like so many of the Greatest Generation, Vivien truly had a zest for life. In rapid succession she graduated from Johnstown High School (1938), met her future husband, got married (1939) and moved to Brooklyn. She met Robert Beirlein when he was assigned to the Civilian Conservation Corps Camp in Speculator, NY. His unit was originally scheduled for assignment in the Pacific Northwest but at the last minute they ended up in the Adirondacks in New York. Vivien always said she just guessed it was meant to be. In 1943 she became a war bride when Bob joined the Army and soon she was the young mother of Judith. While Bob was in the Pacific, Vivien and Judith lived for a time in Brooklyn and then in Johnstown, NY. Between the end of the war and 1952 they had three more children, James, Mary Lou and Jill. For a while in the 50s they lived in Red Bank, New Jersey and in 1958 finally settled in Northville, NY.
Through the years, in addition to caring for her family, Vivien pursued many interests including quilting, knitting, braiding rugs, refinishing furniture, gardening and reading. When Bob’s work took him to London, England, Vivien moved there with him for three and a half years. In addition to exploring all that London and the UK had to offer, Bob and Vivien traveled extensively throughout Europe. Vivien kept a meticulous journal and remembrances of all of their trips. As much as she appreciated all they experienced in Europe, Vivien was totally smitten with the UK and remained a fervent anglophile and fan of the Royal Family for the rest of her life.
Once back in the U.S. and after Bob retired, they made several long road trips throughout the U.S. In addition to traveling, Bob and Vivien loved to spend time on their boat on the Sacandaga. Vivien also found time to make beautiful quilts for her grandchildren, demonstrate quilt-making for school children and at Early American events, and to be involved in the early days of the Northville Public Library.
Vivien’s lifelong love of music was apparent in many ways. She loved listening to her father’s amateur minstrel group, and made sure each of her children studied music and played an instrument. She was a devoted fan of the Northville Central School’s Music Department, always attending band and chorus concerts. In later years she loved listening to her step-grandson’s violin and step-great-granddaughter’s singing. Vivien loved concerts at SPAC and her eclectic tastes drew her to everything from the orchestra and ballet to Tony Bennett, Aretha Franklin and B.B. King. In her last months she was fond of listening to Frank, Perry, Steve, and Doris.
Vivien went home to be with the Lord on June 15, 2016. Born on Feb 11, 1920, Vivien lost Bob, her husband of 53 years in 1992. She was also predeceased by her two sisters, Maxine Stuk and Doris Case; and her brother, Bob Laning. She leaves four children, Judith Wilcox, James (Deborah) Beirlein, Mary Lou (Alan) Stern, and Jill Nadolski; grandchildren, Michelle, Tracey, Sarah, Katharine, Adam, Alison, Molly, Joshua, and Cody. She had ten great-grandchildren, two step-great-grandchildren; and many nieces and nephews.
There will be no calling hours and a funeral service is planned for the immediate family at the Gerald B.H. Solomon National Cemetery in Schuylerville, NY, where Vivien’s ashes will be interred beside Bob’s honored place. A reception to honor her memory will be held at a future date in Northville.
Memorial contributions may be made in her name to the Northville Library, 341 South Third Street, Northville, NY 12134 or to Community Hospice, 295 Valley View Blvd, Rensselaer, NY 12144, who took wonderful care of her and her family during her last few weeks while she resided with her daughter, Mary Lou in Greenwich, NY. Family gathered frequently during that time and shared wonderful memories.
Arrangements are in the care of Northville Funeral Service Inc., 401 Bridge Street, Northville, NY 12134. Please visit the family’s online condolence web page at www.northvillefuneralservice.com.