Mourners will gather Saturday at First Parish Congregational Church in Yarmouth to celebrate and honor the life of Midge Vreeland, co-founder and longtime president of Vreeland Marketing & Design in Yarmouth, who died Monday after a lengthy illness. She was 64.

She founded the advertising agency with her husband, Stew Vreeland, in 1976. The couple ran the agency until late 2013, serving numerous clients across southern Maine, including Cliff House, Bath Savings Institution, Efficiency Maine, Rancourt & Co. and Skillins Greenhouses.

Mrs. Vreeland managed the agency and oversaw account strategies, services and public relations. She was remembered by her husband Friday as a leader in the industry. He said she could see the big picture with clients and had the confidence to back up big decisions.

“She could be in a room (with) a host of options,” he said. “You could see people thinking about this and that. Without being reckless at all, she would say, ‘This is the way to start. Let’s explore this.’ She said it with such poise and confidence. She got all our clients in the place they are. She started them out and helped create their voice.”

Mrs. Vreeland was widely respected in the advertising community. She was an Accredited Public Relations Professional. Her work and dedication was recognized by the Maine Public Relations Council with an Edward L. Bernays Achievement Award. She also received the Conwell Award for lifetime achievement from the Ad Club of Maine.

In December 2013, the Vreelands sold the ad agency to Creative Director Rich Davies and his wife, Cindy. At the time of her death, Mrs. Vreeland was a partner emeritus. Her husband will continue to consult with the Vreeland team.

The Vreelands were married in 1973 and raised three children. Stew Vreeland reminisced about the year they got married – writing down three goals for themselves: to live in Maine, to open their own advertising agency, and to live in Italy. In 1999 they bought a home in the Umbria region of Italy located in the medieval hilltop village of Panicale.

Stew Vreeland admits they didn’t follow a traditional path. Their dream house in Italy was less than desirable. He described it as a “tumbledown house” full of dead pigeons, wild cats and broken glass. They bought it for “nothing” and restored it to glory. Through the years, the couple formed many close friendships there. At 3 p.m. Saturday during Mrs. Vreeland’s service, her friends from Italy plan to drink Prosecco and release red balloons, her husband said.

“We have as many friends in that town as we do here,” he said. “She knew it was a life lesson … to see the world in a bigger place. Our friends thought we were insane, but it was on our list to do someday. When you do a thing like that, … when you come to crossroads in your life, you pick the road that takes you towards the goal. We did things like that.”

The Vreelands restored five or six old houses in Maine. Mrs. Vreeland was active in the Yarmouth community as a member of the First Parish Church and the Yarmouth Chamber of Commerce, and was a volunteer for the clam festival. In Italy, she served as president of the Spannocchia Foundation outside Siena.

“She could do anything,” her husband said, referring to the years she juggled being an ad executive, renovating houses, and running the nonprofit in Italy. “She was always there for her kids. She was a hands-on mom. All of them could depend on her. They knew they could talk to her. She was on their page. Whatever they wanted to do, she supported them and tried to make it happen.”

In 2010, Mrs. Vreeland had a recurrence of breast cancer, which had metastasized to her brain. Throughout her treatments, she remained positive and always thought of others before herself. Friends described her this week as strong, positive and upbeat.

Betty Turina of North Yarmouth, who went to work for Mrs. Vreeland in 2012, said she was the real deal.

“When you met Midge, she was the same person at the fundraiser as she was sitting on her front porch,” Turina said. “She was always warm, always smiling. She was always there for us. She really changed my life.”

Joan Dow, a colleague and friend for more than 30 years, said she lived and thought positively.

“She kept a cheer in her heart as if we all needed to be cheered up,” Dow said. “She had a kind heart and a swift mind. It was a privilege to be a friend and colleague.”

Melanie Creamer can be contacted at 791-6361 or at:

[email protected]