Maryellen Pfeifer

February  25th, 1952 January  1st, 2024
Newton, MA
Maryellen Pfeifer


Maryellen Pfeifer passed away on January 1, 2024, surrounded by loved ones at her home in Newton, Massachusetts. A beloved wife, mother, grandmother, and dear friend, her death marked the end of a courageous five-year battle with metastatic colon cancer. She was 71 years old.

Born in Buffalo, New York, to Vincent and Helen Williams, Maryellen graduated from The Buffalo Academy of the Sacred Heart in 1970 and Canisius College in 1974, with a BA in History and English. During her sophomore year at Canisius, she met her lifelong partner and best friend, Gary Pfeifer.

The couple married in 1974 and moved to Chicago, then Boston, where Maryellen worked in the film industry, eventually securing a leadership role with Warner Brothers. Yet Maryellen discovered that above all, she loved being a mother. Following the birth of her second child, she left her corporate career to focus on raising her family.

An organizer by nature, Maryellen shined enabling the fast-paced lives of her family. She encouraged their various pursuits without reservation. Never one to sit on the sideline, Maryellen actively managed several of her children’s teams, fostering enduring connections with many of their teammates and families.

Over the past decade, Maryellen fell in love with being a grandmother. Her seven grandchildren brought her incomparable joy, and she cherished every minute spent with them. Each day, she told Gary that they were ‘the luckiest people in the world’ for having built the family they had. 

Those who knew Maryellen will remember her as an altruist. She greeted everyone with an easy smile and a kind word; she was deeply curious about the lives of others—family, friends, and strangers alike. Maryellen lived by the Golden Rule and taught her children to do the same.

But her gentle heart was paired with a tough constitution. When diagnosed with terminal cancer she resolved to fight the disease, while living the life she chose and cherished. Amidst more than one hundred rounds of chemotherapy, Maryellen retained her characteristic joie de vivre. She and Gary continued to embrace shared time together, spending weekends in Maine, visiting her ancestral Ireland, and most recently, traveling to Alaska. Maryellen was profoundly grateful for the care she received at Massachusetts General Hospital and hoped that her journey there would contribute to improved outcomes for future patients.

Maryellen’s legacy will endure in the lives of the people she knew, loved, and cared for, as well as those who cared for her. She put good into the world and the world is a better place having had her in it. She will be missed dearly.

Maryellen is survived by her husband of 49 years, Gary Pfeifer of Newton, Massachusetts; her children: Adam (Kate) Pfeifer of Waterbury, Vermont; Jessica (Craig) Stewart of Providence, Rhode Island; and Nick (Lauren) Pfeifer of Natick, Massachusetts. She is also survived by her grandchildren: Veda and Nieve Pfeifer; Jack and Jordan Stewart; and Gracie, Vincent, and William Pfeifer. She was preceded in death by her parents, Vincent and Helen Williams.

Her family and friends will celebrate her life and legacy in the spring. Below are details regarding donations that can be made in Maryellen's memory. 

Memory wall

Share your memories of Maryellen.

February 7, 2024
Dear Gary and Family,

We were heartbroken to hear about Maryellen’s passing.

Please know that our deepest sympathies, thoughts, and prayers are with you and the family.

MaryEllen was an incredible person. She was beautiful inside and out. Our family always thought the world of you both. We hope the love and memories you shared together bring you solace at this difficult time. You have built an incredible family!

A donation has been made to the Boston Museum of Science in memory of Maryellen.

All our love,
Nancy, Amy, Scott, and Families
Nancy, Amy, and Scott
January 18, 2024
Maryellen was such a special woman, I felt to honored to get to know her as she generously allowed our family to hold our granddaughter's baby naming at their home. She was more than special to my daughter in law , Mariel, who loved her dearly. Her loving spirit was evident to everyone that came into her orbit. I am only sorry that didn't get to know her better. My love goes out to her whole family at this difficult time, as I know she was adored.
With affection, Betsy and David
January 11, 2024
Miss you already!
Janna Goldstein
January 11, 2024
I had the privilege of knowing Maryellen since the age of 10 having met her through my first club soccer experiences with Mass Machine and the Bolts. Her daughter Jess quickly became one of my best friends and over the years has become more like a sister to me. Maryellen instantly was welcoming and warm and I have countless memories of Pfeifer family road trips to soccer tournaments where we spent our time instigating Gary and her brothers Adam and Nicky while extracting a good laugh from Maryellen as we did so. She and her family provided me with some formative childhood memories while tubing on the lake in Maine or dressing up in Gary’s moms old fur coats to see Niagara Falls and scarfing down Teds hotdogs in Buffalo while on a roadtrip. I have distinct memories about my excitement when I got to go to their home which was always filled with kids coming in and out, and lots of laughter. It was a lively and welcoming home, clearly an indication of two very loving, friendly and supportive parents who loved being around their children as they grew up, and the loving and selfless character of Maryellen. In the more recent years her fight against cancer highlighted the resilience, strength and positivity that had always been incredible attributes of hers. Despite her long and hard battle, during our visits over the years she always found the ability to laugh and tell stories and remain optimistic about her treatment. She always asked about others, showing genuine interest in our lives. She was one of the kindest souls this world will ever know, showing my mom and I both great friendship over the years, She was an incredible mom who raised some of my favorite humans in the world who also exude the selflessness, passion, determination and kindness that she did. She was loved dearly by all the knew her and will forever be missed. I feel privileged to have known her and to get to see her legacy live on through the lives of her children and grandchildren❤️
Laina (Ceddia) Draeger
January 10, 2024
Maryellen was a beautiful kind and caring woman. She fought this disease like a trooper. She was a wonderful mother-in-law to my niece Lauren and family. We loved seeing Maryellen and Gary coming over on the pontoon boat to visit us on Sebago Lake. You will be missed!
Claire, Dan and family
Claire Franks
January 10, 2024
I haven’t spoken to Maryellen in almost 3 decades, but I’ve never forgotten her kindness. I played soccer with her son as a young boy, & the Pfeifer’s would frequently have gatherings/sleepovers at their home for the team! Maryellen was always the first to greet us all, the first to walk us out, & the first to make sure we were all having a good time. I always felt at home at their house & she was a big reason for that! I sincerely hope she is resting peacefully & my thoughts are with her survived family.
Hank Van Putten III
January 10, 2024
Maryellen and I have been friends for close to 30 years. We met when our daughters played Boston Bolts soccer. In middle and high school We grew our friendship through their college years, marriages and arrival of grandkids sharing so many laughs and stories. Maryellen had such a loving heart. I will miss our times together and treasure them always.
Maryellen Ceddia
January 10, 2024
I only met her once and toward the very end of her life but Maryellen impressed me with her sincerity, depth and expansive love for those close to her. Now entrusted to the infinite mercy of God, may she one day welcome those she loved into the wide embrace of eternity.
Fr. Joseph J. Guido, O.P.
January 10, 2024
Paul and I have been friends with Gary and Maryellen for many decades, well before any of us had kids. She was very beautiful, with an unforgettable smile, and yet she led with her salt-of-the earth personality, always so warm, so genuine. Our friendship was a significant addition to my life and will be deeply missed. Heartfelt condolences to her family.
Cathy Fulton


Maryellen's family and friends will celebrate her life and legacy on June 9, 2024 at Larz Anderson Park in Brookline, MA. 
Larz Anderson Park
June 9, 2024 at 3:00PM


Donations in Maryellen's memory can be made to the Museum of Science, Boston or Providence Children’s Museum, where she spent countless hours marveling at her grandkids’ wonder; she would hope to share that magic with others.

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