Marie Elaine (Blake) Hurtig, 69, passed away the morning of February 13, 2017. Born in Rockland, Maine, on January 22, 1948, Marie was the daughter of the late Lawrence and Elizabeth (Fisher) Blake. She graduated from Union High School. Marie moved to Mis­souri many years ago with her husband, Robert Hurtig, who lost a cancer battle in 2010. Marie had been diagnosed with stage IV cancer in January of this year.
Marie was always one for an adventure and met her husband, Bob, while they both worked at McMurdo Station in Antarctica. She wrote articles for that station’s newspaper there and even shared her Maine “huma” during a talent show. She eventually went on to write two poetry books about her time spent traveling to Antarctica and while there. Marie said that one of those books, Art and Poetry from “The Ice,” which was written by Marie and illustrated by Bob, was the first book in history to be written and published on Ross Island, Antarctica. Bob and Marie married in New Zealand and eventually relocated to Rock Port, Missouri, to be closer to Bob’s mother, Elsie Hurtig, who died shortly before her son.
As a memorial to her husband and mother-in-law, Marie began The Rock Port Cat Ranch, rescuing and providing shelter to hundreds of cats each year up until the day she entered the hospital in 2017. Marie made it her mission to save those deemed unsaveable, to rescue the injured, and take in the unloved. Once they entered through her doors in carriers or in kennels or in boxes or in arms, they were unloved no more. The instant Marie’s eyes met theirs she became their mother, their caretaker, their ally, and for some their only friend. She loved her cats as most love their children. She cried when they hurt and were put out of their suffering. She fed them at all hours of the day and night when they had no feline mother to see to their needs. And she spent a fortune on their care and materials. Marie saved many hundreds of cats. One woman… Let that sink in. We sometimes think our actions insignificant in the big scheme of things, but they aren’t. She made those cats her life while introducing them to the world. Yes she had help from many individuals over the years in finding them homes. But it was her answer of “yes, bring them over,” that saved them. Marie Hurtig was a lifesaver and a life giver, because she not only saved the lives of hundreds of cats, but also hundreds of people as well. For every true cat lover will tell you it was the cat who rescued them, not they who rescued the cat. She healed the broken-hearted by giving them a companion, she gave others a purpose by having them take on the tougher cases, the ill or old or characters. She welcomed many individuals sentenced to community service into her home to allow them to work off their time needed under her tutelage and showed them that everyone can be of service to someone else, can be generous and kind, even if it’s to a cat. Her life will be remembered as one of greatness, one of dedication to a most worthy, but under appreciated cause, and as one that had a lasting impact on too many to count.
We will miss you, Marie. And though our hearts are broken, we smile in the knowledge that many other hearts, as well as hers, are whole again. Because not only did God welcome her into the kingdom of heaven, but she stepped through the gates and into the arms of her loving husband, Bob, while surrounded by cats of all shapes and sizes meowing “Welcome Home.”
Marie was a member of the Heartland Riders Chapter of the Christian Motorcycle Association.
Marie is survived by her daughter, Dana (Wooster) Grubbs, of Thomaston, Maine; her grandsons, Logan and Kasey Grubbs; her five siblings, Jim, Nancy, Eddie, John, and Ruth and their spouses. Additionally, Marie is survived by Barbara York, who was like a daughter to her, many friends in the Mid Coast area, many friends and Cat Ranch volunteers in the Atchison County area, her goats Cowboy and Summer, and her many well-loved cats.
A memorial service will be held at 10 a.m. on Saturday, March 4, 2017, at the Rock Port United Methodist Church. Memorials may be directed to Pleasant View Nursing Home, Rock Port. Services are under the direction of Chamberlain Funeral Home.