Bernadette “Muriel” Columby, 91, Watertown

WATERTOWN, NY — Bernadette “Muriel” Columby left us on Sept. 12, 2018, at the age of 91.

She was born Aug. 4, 1927, in Brooklyn, NY, the daughter of Theresa Hagenburg and Bernard Columby.

Bernadette, who preferred to be called Muriel, was a very sweet and pleasant woman.

She resided in Letchworth Village in 1934. She went to Sunmount Developmental Center in February 1987, and in May of that year, she came to the Jefferson Rehabilitation Center.  Muriel lived her life at the 803 Holcomb Street Residence in Watertown along with all the support staff that became her family.  Muriel attended the Day Treatment program on Gaffney Drive, the Day Habilitation program on VanDuzee Street at the Annex and the Day Habilitation program within her residence.

She enjoyed looking at her books, cards, coloring, magazines, her stuffed animals and ‘shopping’.  Muriel was very talkative and got very excited when she talked about going shopping.  Muriel had a smile and laugh that brightened up your day. She enjoyed looking ‘pretty,’ celebrating all the holidays, making crafts, having ‘hot dogs and baked beans,’ ‘meatballs’ and participating in church school. Muriel painted canvas artwork that was in the Raymour & Flannigan art show and is now hanging in the Gaffney Drive building.

Muriel enjoyed decorating her residence and Day Habilitation program room for the holidays.  She would tell support staff the holiday that was coming up. Support staff assisted her with making decorations for her home and Day Habilitation.  Afterwards, she would point to the decorations that were made and would tell support staff to take ‘down’ for the next upcoming holiday.  She also enjoyed decorating her bedroom by having pictures hung in her room.

Muriel was very social and enjoyed the activities and the time she spent with support staff and peers. She enjoyed watching music videos on television and clapped, laughed, and sung to the music that was playing.  Muriel had a great sense of accomplishment and loved the compliments.  She especially liked having her hair and nails done and purchasing & wearing jewelry. She also enjoyed balloons, parties, birthday cake, flowers and testing scents at Bath & Body Works to see which smelled best.

Muriel is survived by her niece, Dorothy Pappert of Maspeth, NY and a sister, Katherine Auletti of Topeka, Kansas.

Five sisters Anne, Theresa, Eleanor, Alice, Jacqueline and two brothers, Harold and Bernard, predeceased her.

Muriel will be missed by her family and all the support staff that shared her life with her.

Arrangements are with D.L. Calarco Funeral Home, Inc., Watertown.