In August, she sat front and center as officials dedicated the 89-acre cemetery she worked so hard to develop.

As a final gesture of thanks, the backers of the Southern Maine Memorial Veterans Cemetery in Sanford named the cemetery’s main entrance road after her.

Clancy Way was a fitting tribute to the woman who did so much during her lifetime on behalf of war veterans and for those less fortunate.

Marie E. Clancy, a longtime resident of Springvale, died Saturday at age 85.

“She was a very persistent person. She was a lady with a strong will who was hard to say no to. If she believed you could do some good, then she would come after you,” said Ray Parent, Sanford’s former fire chief, who retired this month.

Parent, a Navy veteran and major backer of the cemetery, said it was her persistence in recruiting supporters, getting people to write letters to the governor, applying for grants and overcoming bureaucratic obstacles that helped get the cemetery built.

“She was a constant force behind the scenes,” Parent said. “She is going to be missed dearly.”

The cemetery is one of four in Maine that serve as the final resting place for veterans and their families.

Born in Princeton, N.J., Mrs. Clancy was the oldest of 13 children. After high school, she went to work to help support her siblings.

She later married John Patrick Clancy, an Army veteran of World War II and Korea.

Mrs. Clancy’s daughter, Mary Ann Bourke Clancy of Dorchester, Mass., said her father was wounded several times. Shrapnel was embedded in both of his legs.

Her husband’s service to his country and his bravery made an impression on Mrs. Clancy.

“They were intertwined. She picked up on the veterans issues because of what had happened to my dad,” their daughter said.

The couple moved to Springvale in 1971. Her husband died in 1984.

Though it left a void, his death also stirred his wife to action.

“My mother put herself into volunteer work after he died,” their daughter said.

Mrs. Clancy served as director of the Sanford Food Pantry for more than a decade, volunteered at the Shriners Orthopedic Hospital and Burn Center, and was awarded the 2005-2006 Citizen of the Year Award by the Kiwanis Club of Sanford.

“Our Thanksgiving always started the day after because she’d go to the pantry to make sure that people had enough food,” her daughter said.

Mrs. Clancy also was nominated for the WCSH Channel 6 Jefferson Award in 1998 and was recognized by the York County Area Chapter of the American Red Cross for providing assistance during the ice storm of 1998.

But her greatest achievement may have been the cemetery. Her husband was buried in one nearby. “He can look over and see the (veterans) cemetery,” Mrs. Clancy told The Portland Press Herald last year.

Her daughter said Mrs. Clancy visited veterans cemeteries all over New England because she wanted to incorporate their best features into the Southern Maine Memorial Veterans Cemetery.

Mrs. Clancy contacted lawmakers, met with architects and worked tirelessly on behalf of veterans who she knew would benefit from her efforts, her daughter said.

“God help them if they didn’t call her back the first time. She wanted to make sure this cemetery got done,” her daughter said.

Staff Writer Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at:

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