Irene "Beetsie" Elizabeth Marcuse Silver

Goodnight Irene

By Tabitha Silver

I am saddened to report that Irene died in the early hours of Monday, March 8th. She passed peacefully and at home in the care of hospice and surrounded my her friends, family and song. 

She wanted to return to the earth as naturally as possible. We will gather in Rhinebeck, NY, this Monday to bid farewell to her physical body.  This will be in a rustic setting so please dress appropriately. We are in the beginning stages of planning a June 10th memorial tribute to celebrate her amazing life. 

Thank you, in the meantime, for all your condolences and kind thoughts. 

Irene was the granddaughter of social philosopher Herbert Marcuse, an accident of birth that informed a lot of her life. She is survived by her daughter Tabitha Silver, her parents Peter & Frances Marcuse, her brothers Harold & Andrew, her ex-husband Philip Silver and her future grandson Theo Shaver. 

She has lived all over the United States, including New Mexico, California, New York and worked as a medical technician, long distance telephone operator, house cleaner, waitress, painter, door & wallpaper hanger, bead stringer, proofreader, and editor before receiving an MSW in social work from Columbia University. She was the Assistant Director of Morningside Retirement and Health Services before becoming a full time writer.

Irene "Beetsie" Elizabeth Marcuse Silver
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  • died


Join us for Irene’s birthday on June 10th (her actual birthday), 11th or 12th for an Open House Celebration of Life 1-4pm.
Joyce Willis
I hired Irene as a social worker in 1992 for a senior program. The old folks (with questionable vision) used to mix us up, and when we were together, insisted that we were twins. As the attached photo reveals, we both had bushy hair, wore similar glasses (and wore long flowing dresses like the aging flower children we were).

I cannot imagine my life without her. She lives 5 blocks from me and we spent many hours together. Of course my grief cannot compare with Tabitha’s
I felt kindred with you, Tabby, early on when we met in college, so it was really little surprise that the feeling extended to your family when I met them that same year. Irene really made us all feel at home in her home, a place where so many of us wanted to spend vacations and where I spent the good majority of Friday evenings for the year that I lived close by. Rooftop dinners with a side of irreverent confessions and contagious laughter with the two of you will always be a place that I associate with memories of a spiritual home. I admire that Irene was always journeying and reinventing—and may this transition be continuation of that lifelong journey. May her memory be a blessing that shines on you and Theo in the years to come!
Love, Molly
When Beetsie (as she was called then) moved back to Connecticut in 1969 she was sad and we were sad. I made her a book with an e.e. cummings poem, and illustrated by photos of Rachael Random. And this was the note in the front of the book. I completely forgot about the book but 40 years later -- at the reunion in 2010 -- she returned it to me. The Christmas/Hanukkah referred to would have been on a hiking club backpack to Pt. Reyes in Dec 1968 and the book made up a year later.

(we all loved our italic osmiroid ink pens; the lack of capitals is homage to e.e. cummings)

The poem by e.e. cummings is
(sitting in a tree--)
o small you
sitting in a tree
sitting in a treetop
riding on a greenest
riding on a greener
(o little i)
riding on a leaf
o least who
sing small thing
dance little joy
(shine most prayer)
Irene was a very special person in my life. She met my mother, Cathy, at a writer's workshop in Santa Barbara in the 70s and they became life long friends, and our families always felt like family. During college I loved visiting NYC and staying in the warm artsy vibe of her flat. I moved to NYC after college and she put me up in her neighbor's apartment and cared for me when I was going through a hard time. We were housemates for a year when I was 25 and she welcomed me into Tabitha's old room in her home, taught me how to make sprouts, avocado toast and chai, and included me in her women's writing group. I taught her how to do yoga. We made up songs about her cat, Felix. We made art and cooked supper while sipping wine. We had a blast. I'll never forget the year we lived together. Irene started making a baby blanket for me when my mother was pregnant, put it down for a while, and 33 years later I received a beautiful quilt in the mail for my birthday. I'm looking at it right now. I loved Irene so much and I'll always carry her in my heart. I wish she could meet Theo, but I know her spirit will live on and his life will be enriched by her presence even though she's no longer with us in this world. So much love to Tabitha and Irene's family and friends who are also saddened by this loss.
Irene "Beetsie" Elizabeth Marcuse Silver
  • born


  • died