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150 mourn Piecemakers' founder

Services for Marie Kolasinski, who founded the Costa Mesa religious commune and crafts store, draws wide range of community members.

April 27, 2012|By Lauren Williams
  • Peggy Butler sings "The Rose" during a memorial service for Marie Kolasinski at the Piecemakers Country Store on Friday. Kolasinski, the founder of Piecemakers, died Monday at the age of 90.
Peggy Butler sings "The Rose" during a memorial… (SCOTT SMELTZER,…)

About 150 community members attended a memorial for Piecemakers founder Marie Kolasinski at the group's Country Store in Costa Mesa on Friday afternoon.

Wearing suits, overalls and even a clerical collar, a wide range of attendees sat around gingham-topped tables and shared a full Thanksgiving-style meal prepared by the Piecemakers, a Christian group that runs the Adams Avenue store and lives communally in Mesa Verde.

Kolasinski, who died Monday at age 90, was remembered as a fiery and energetic government critic who also cared deeply about faith and her children.

Kolasinski's daughter Krista Fletcher, a Mesa Verde resident, said her mother was a woman with a "never-say-die" attitude.

When Fletcher came home from school, baked snacks awaited. Furthermore, she said her mom was always involved in school activities.

"She was a great mom," Fletcher said.

Kolasinski was also remembered for her efforts to fight City Hall. She made national headlines when she refused to allow county health inspectors to visit her tearoom at the craft store. In 2007, at the age of 85, Kolasinski spent seven days in jail for blocking the inspectors.

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Karen Reling, who has lived near the Piecemakers for 24 years, said she always felt secure with them as neighbors.

"My girls especially were always safe and taken care of knowing [the Piecemakers] always looked after them," Reling said. "Especially Marie."

From about 2:30 a.m. until 8 or 9 p.m. on any given day, Reling said she would see the lights on in Kolasinski's home and knew she was slaving away at another beautiful meal.

Kolasinski made "the most fabulous food you can even imagine," Reling said.

JoAnn Shapiro, a 25-year Country Store customer, saw in Kolasinski an effort to use crafts as a cure for the soul.

"When my friends called, my husband would say, 'She's at her therapy session at Piecemakers,'" Shapiro said.

The Christian group plans to soldier on without its leader. The store will stay open, members said.

"When asked who owned Piecemakers, she said, 'God does. I'm just keeping the vineyard for him,'" said member Doug Follette. "Marie, you were too good for this world. We will keep you in our prayers and thoughts."

lauren.williams@latimes.com

Twitter: @lawilliams30

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