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Remembering Marilyn Marquis (1947–2021)

Longtime early music supporter and former SFEMS board member Marilyn Marquis passed away on Tuesday, October 5, after a brief illness. A longtime faculty member at Las Positas College, Marilyn had moved to Pennsylvania several years ago to live closer to family. Our condolences go out to her relatives at the loss of their loved one, and to our wider community in the loss of a beloved and devoted friend.

Her close friend and Music Discovery Workshop director Yuko Tanaka offers the following reflection:

“I’ve known Marilyn for 19 years and the news of her passing is tragic, simply because she was more than just a music friend. I met Marilyn when she started piano lessons with me starting in 2002. Slowly, we’ve developed a great teacher-student relationship and more importantly a lasting friendship. She enjoyed helping me out with twice yearly student recitals cheering on the students as they made progress. On her 60th birthday in 2007, Marilyn performed a debut solo piano recital, which also marked her adieu to piano as she, by this time, had been bitten by a harpsichord bug. She had always been a recorder player so she was already active in the early music circle, but becoming a harpsichord convert raised her involvement to another level.

Lessons were now on a harpsichord and she commissioned a lovely instrument from Ron Nakashima. She wanted to share her love of early music to a new audience at the college where she taught for many years so she founded the Early Music Concert Series at Las Positas College. I was lucky to be on Marilyn’s A list and got to organize a lot of chamber music concerts with her bringing together the Bay Area’s early music colleagues for great music making. I served alongside Marilyn on the SFEMS board for years. On a personal note, she was like a grandmother to our boys, always there for their birthdays, many Oakland Zoo visits, and we walked together in yearly Light the Night Walks (Leukemia & Lymphoma Society event) in memory of her older daughter and many more. She was a big San Francisco Giants fan although she was from Southern California. Marilyn moved to Pennsylvania at the beginning of 2017 so that she could be close to her surviving daughter and her family (she lost her older daughter exactly a year before I met her). The distance unfortunately kept us apart and meant less frequent contact but occasionally we shared our news. The last time I “saw” Marilyn was at one of the SFEMS virtual classes I presented in June this summer. We all have our own special memories of Marilyn but we all will remember Marilyn for her generosity, sense of community and kind spirit.”

An obituary is available here.

Written by Heidi Waterman