During the funeral service, the late Marlene’s Jefferson’s son-in-law, Brendan, read a tribute on behalf of the family.
He related how Marlene, the second eldest of 10 children, had started to work at the age of 14 in a shirt factory, which stood her in good stead later in life.
“As well as having a full-time job at that early age, she became a second mother to her siblings who all adored her,” he said.
“This experience laid the foundations for the amazing mum and granny she became to her own five children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
“Her years in the factory gave her skills often utilised at home. Marlene was known to buy a fabric on a Thursday, to make a dress to wear at the Corinthian Ballroom on a Friday.
“Marlene met Jim at 16. Their favourite pastime was dancing in the Corinthian, and she gained quite a reputation for dancing in her five-inch heels. Many years later her children remember Mum ironing and doing the housework in those same high five-inch heels.
“She broadened her horizons travelling around the world, visiting her siblings and was never restrained by the confines of being born and reared in her beloved Derry. As is widely known she achieved a lot in life, but was always private and extremely modest about her achievements; the same could not be said when it came to her children and grandchildren. Her single biggest source of pride were her family and she would take every opportunity to talk about them; where they were, what they were doing and how proud she was of each and every one of them. Her encouragement was endless and invaluable to us all,” he said.
“As much as we all feel heartbroken today that she is gone, we feel incredibly lucky to have had her for so long. She has always been such a solid source of warmth and strength and meant the world to us all. We are all so different and she loved us all, understood us all and loved us for who we were. An hour with her and you could come away feeling you could do and succeed in anything you put your mind to. She was inspirational.
“She also filled many other roles, as a sister, a friend, a good neighbour and many more. But, regardless of how you knew her, or for how long, she was indiscriminate in the warmth and kindness she displayed. Her love was unconditional, her advice always measured and fair, her stories always witty and interesting and her support unwavering.
“Today she takes a little bit of each of us with her, but has left so much more of her in us. We were the lucky family who got to call her mum and granny. She is forever in our hearts.”