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Marjorie Jean Sutton

Marjorie Jean Sutton

October 15, 1932 - April 13, 2018

Marjorie Jean Sutton – known to everyone as Marge – peacefully made her transition on April 13, 2018. She was a loving wife, mother, grandmother, and a friend to many. Marge (née Marjorie Jean Rawson) was born October 15, 1932 in Yakima, Washington. She spent much of her early childhood in Portland, Oregon, and moved from there to Banning, California, before living in Orange, Calif., where she attended and graduated from Orange High School. She attended San Diego State College briefly before completing her college education at San Jose State University, where she received a B.A. degree.

After graduation, Marge was employed as the secretary to the Treasurer of the Rand Corporation in Santa Monica. With a desire to learn to ski, she joined the Rand Ski Club and signed up for their annual Learn-To-Ski-Week trip; that year it was to Sun Valley, Idaho. Only three other Rand employees – whom she didn’t know – went that year: a couple that were going steady and her future husband, Roy, whom she would soon know well. Apres-ski dancing brought them together, the first stage of what became a 60-year marriage.

Their honeymoon trip was an epiphany in appreciating the beauties of nature: the two of them camping by themselves at the base of Havasu Falls in the depths of the Grand Canyon, and then on to stays and hikes at the beauties of Grand Canyon’s South and North rims, Bryce Canyon, and Zion. This experience, after moving to the San Francisco Bay Area with their first-born, led to her many years of hiking, camping, and backpacking with Roy and her four sons in the Santa Cruz Mountains and the Sierras. Marge’s love for the environment culminated in her later becoming Chair of the Loma Prieta Chapter of the Sierra Club, arguably its largest chapter in the United States at the time.

Living in Los Altos, Calif. during the 1960s and 1970s, she was active in the civil rights movements of the time: representing her Episcopal church as Intergroup Relations representative to the Diocese of San Francisco; actively participating for years – with very young sons – in a Summer Discovery program that brought interracial families together from “both sides of the freeway” for trips and activities; supporting Caesar Chavez and the grape workers, including participating – again, with very young sons – on a part of the 300-mile March from Delano to Sacramento, and then rejoining the march when it arrived in Sacramento.

Marge returned to San Jose State University to get a teaching credential. She then taught in both private and public elementary schools for several years. Her creative talents flourished in her classroom and outdoor education endeavors. She would entertain and enrich her students with lively readings of great literature, her young students gathered around her on the carpet, spellbound by her wonderful storytelling ability. She also created puppets and conceived puppet shows to teach about protecting the Bay Area marshlands. Just as she inspired inner-city youth to imagine a better world through the media of various arts, she also inspired her four sons with the love of literature, art, drama, and the beauty of the natural world. Her four sons and certainly many others she touched are richer in spirit and more enlightened in mind for having been under her care.

Later on, Marge earned an MBA from the University of Redlands in order to create a nonprofit company emphasizing conflict resolution through mediation: Forum on Community and the Environment. A major contract involved bringing together the management of the San Francisco Airport and a local association of homeowners who felt noise-threatened by existing and proposed takeoff/landing flight paths over their homes.

In seeking to support not only the environment and civil rights but also many social issues, she, having grown up with and active in the progressive wing of the Republican Party, was the Democrat candidate for the California State Assembly in a solidly Republican district. After losing in the general election, she was appointed by Governor Willie Brown as the “token” environmentalist on California’s Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation (OHMVR) Commission. With her background and winning personality, she was able to convert the rest of the commission members to an attitude of conservation and sustainability.

Ever seeking to help people, she also had stints in disability insurance sales and financial planning. Marge found immense satisfaction in teaching English as a Second Language (ESL) and Citizenship classes for adults from around the world (North and South America, Asia, and Europe).

Moving to Ashland’s Mountain Meadows Community 14 years ago, she was a member of its Board of Directors, served as Chair of its Book Club, sang in its choral group The Meadowlarks, as well as the Rogue Valley Peace Choir, volunteered in the OSF Welcome Center, attended many OLLI classes, supported and gained spiritual sustenance, from Unity in Ashland as she had done previously at Unity in Palo Alto,          frequently walked in Lithia Park,  and supported many local music and theater organizations.

She leaves behind the outpouring of her amazing gift of love to help sustain her husband, Roy; her four sons , David, Steven, Gregory, and Matthew; and two grandchildren, Catherine and Jonathan.

A celebration of life for Marge will be held at Mountain Meadows Community on the afternoon of Sunday, May 13, 2018, time to be          determined..

Any donations in her remembrance may be made by check to the Alzheimer's Association, P.O. Box 96011, Washington, D.C. 20090-6011; or by phone 800.272.3900; or via their web page at act.alz.org/donate.