Lillian Martineau, known affectionately as Diamond Lil to family and friends, died peacefully in the early morning of Friday, November 6, 2020, at her home of 73 years in Johnston, RI. She had family members present and caring members of in-home hospice. Born in Providence, RI, Lillian had turned 99 years old earlier this year. She was the wife of the late Wilfred Martineau for more than 52 years. It was a strong love that began as a teenage elopement, and survived the separation of World War II and the hard work of building their own business. Their marriage produced three daughters and one son: Carol (Martineau) Way of Fairfield, CT, Beverly (Martineau) Wilson of Harmony, RI, Judith Martineau of West Palm Beach, FL, and Dean Martineau of Providence, RI.
Lil’s parents were the late George and Mary-Jane (Sears) Tainsh of Providence; she was predeceased by all of her siblings: Olive Creasey of Cranston, RI Thomas Tainsh of Payson, AZ, Margaret Rosa of Saco, ME, Elizabeth Wiggins of Cranston, RI, Marion Conway of North Providence, RI and George Tainsh of Providence, RI.
She had attended RI Public Schools, but left just short of graduation. Full of spunk and determination, Lil earned her GED at the age of 76. For many years, she was a customer services representative in the catalog department of Sears in Providence.
Lillian was very proud of her seven grandchildren, Laura (Way) Jordahl, Craig Way, Vickie (Way) Mertlich, Jonathan Way, James Wilson, Wyatt Martineau, and Gauge Ball. Her love and pride carried over to her 13 great-grandchildren and her 13 great-great grandchildren. She had a very special bond with grandson, Wyatt Martineau, for whom she provided daycare and after-school care for many years during her eighties.
Lillian was fortunate enough to have participated in three different five generation photos. The latest was photographed this past August after the birth of her last great-great grandchild, Jace Kelly.
As the surviving aunt in a large family, she appreciated visiting with her many nieces and nephews. She was always in attendance at all family celebrations and was known for baking her currant squares, maids of honor, banana breads, holiday cookies, and her own version of Chex Mix.
Lillian had several strong passions. The first was always her family and her love of the Episcopal Church (especially St. Peter’s and St. Andrew’s Church in Providence). Next was her love of the Boston Red Sox and sports in general. Third was her pride in her Scottish heritage. While she appreciated all types of food, she especially loved the bounty of her beloved Rhode Island and its waters—little necks, quahogs, clam chowder, lobster, clam cakes, with a slice of RI tomato pie, a NY style wiener with a root beer float or a stop at a Newport Creamery for a special ice cream dish. Diamond Lil always dreamed of winning the lottery, Powerball, or hitting it big at the casino, but it was always with the goal of sharing winnings with family, friends, church, and charities. She loved to travel, and had been to most of the U.S states, England, France, Germany, Japan, Martinique, and other foreign sites.
Lillian loved decorating and celebrating all festive holidays both in the way she dressed and the decorations throughout her home. She was a weekly bowler well into her nineties, and she was still driving until her mid-nineties. Lillian was always there to help a friend or a family member.
There were a variety of health issues over the past three years that Lil fought with strength and courage. She was especially fortunate to have the wonderful in-home care provided by family members and to live out her final days in her own home.
Her funeral service will be held on Monday, November 16, 2020 at 11 am in St. Peter’s and St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, 25 Pomona Ave, Providence. Burial will be private in the Rhode Island Veterans Cemetery, Exeter. Calling hours Sunday 2-4 pm in the Robbins Funeral Home, 2251 Mineral Spring Ave., North Providence. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the church c/o 70 Pemberton St. Providence, RI 02908.
Social distancing will be followed and masks will be required at both the church and funeral home. There will be limited seating in the church and visitors will be required to wait outside of the funeral home for calling hours.
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