It is never easy to capture someone’s life in a few words, but Monique’s 100 years gave me a lot to choose from. There is so much I didn’t mention and much I didn’t know, but the following words are her obituary and they are intended to give you a glimpse at a life well-lived.
Monique Olmer passed away at the age of 100 on April 28, 2020. Monique’s passion for life and incredible sense of style was an inspiration to all who knew her. She was the epitome of French beauty and grace.
Monique’s life did not come to an end, as so many people’s have, from the coronavirus; at one hundred and a half, she just wore out.
Monique was many things:
An artist, who created collages with layers of images, radiating color and reflecting her love of beauty as well as her interest in spirituality. Her pieces are so powerful it is hard to look away.
A writer who wrote poetry and published a book called Stone Dogs, a short story about a French woman traveling through the French countryside.
Passionate about antiques and beautiful things, she was the doyenne of Antan Antiques, the store she and her husband, Francis Olmer, opened in the '70s and she ran until she retired in 2015, at 96.
An avid gardener whose passion for flowers influenced everything she did, she never understood why people were afraid of combining colors. “Just look at a bed of flowers,” she would say. “The colors are all perfect together, they are beautiful.” And of course she was right.
As an enthusiastic lover of design, fashion, and antiques, she expressed her taste in everything she did and was an inspiration for all of those lucky enough to have known her. She was known for her love of leopard. And as she often said, “You always need a touch of leopard in both your décor and your wardrobe.” And she was right about that too.
She was born in Paris, France, on October 21, 1919, to Dr. Clement and Andrée (Pezrel) Maréchal. As a young girl she traveled with her parents to Algeria and Morocco where she experienced a world so different from her own that it began her lifelong passion for travel.
Just before the start of WWII, Monique accompanied her father, a doctor, to St Tropez where he saw patients. She waited at Senequier, the famous café that at that time was the gathering place for artists and intellectuals. Among other people, she met the fashion designer Paul Poiret who fell in love with her style and befriended her. At the end of his life she had become his muse.
But most importantly Senequier was where she met her husband, Francis Olmer, (married on October 23, 1942) and that is where their lifelong passion began.
From the beginning of their marriage, they lived in Sainte-Maxime, at her parents’ home. During WWII Francis was part of the Resistance and when the Gestapo would arrive at the house searching for him, Monique would divert them, as he would sneak out the back. This continued until the American landing (Operation Overlord) in 1944.
In 1955 they moved their family from Paris to New York to experience a different lifestyle. After five years they returned to France and soon realized they had fallen in love with the United States and decided to pack their bags and move their family back to America where they lived until their deaths..
Monique was both gentle and strong; she wasn’t afraid of a fight, defeating cancer when it presented itself.
She loved to laugh. There wasn’t a day that went by that she didn’t find something to laugh at—something she would delight in sharing so we all could laugh together—and then you’d see the pure joy appear on her face. She was happy.
Monique loved to entertain and was always happy dressing up to go to a party. Now that she’s reunited with Francis, we’re sure she’s all dressed up, smiling as she floats in his arms.
Monique is survived by her four children: Anthony (Theo), Patrick (Barbara), Adeline (Mark Santiago), Audrey (Jim Weinberg). Her nine grandchildren: Adrisse (David Brandt), Tyler, Jordan, Seth, Olivia, Allison, Luke, Dana, and her three great-grandchildren: Samantha, Scott and Tristan. Her granddaughter Catherine Sorbaro predeceased her.
When we are able to gather again, there will be a celebration of Monique’s extraordinary life.
If you are interested in reading more about Monique you may enjoy these posts.
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