Marilyn Johnston Martin, born April 3, 1935, passed away peacefully at home on October 16, 2022. She was preceded in death by her mother and father, Katherine (Moore) and Glenn Johnston, her husband Guy V. Martin, and her brother, Glenn Edward Johnston. She is survived by her brother, Bradley Moore Johnston; her children, Joan Rosenzweig, John (Lynn), Kristin (Lori Miller), and Colin Martin; her grandsons Kyle, Jordan, and Desmond Martin; Joan’s children Sarah, Gwen and Marc; and her many much-loved nieces and nephews. She was the last woman of her generation in the Riggle-Moore family of Washington, PA.
Marilyn grew up in Washington, Pennsylvania, during The Great Depression and her family has a rich history there. Her ancestors include the first physician in the western Pennsylvania territory before the Revolutionary War. Family members fought on both sides of the Whisky Rebellion, the first constitutional crisis of the new republic. She had many loving memories of the times spent at her grandfather Moore’s farm. There was always something new to learn on the farm and she passed on many of these lessons — the self-reliance of growing your own food and churning your own cheese, sharing what you have with those in need, and innovating solutions to problems. Then, after World War II, a whole new learning experienced opened up to her: her family re-located from the East to the Midwest—Shorewood, Wisconsin. And Marilyn discovered on her first day of school that a water fountain is not something you drink from. Bubbler?! Also on her first day of school, right there in 9th grade home room, she met “Punky” Martin. After many years of on-again, off-again dating, Marilyn and Guy married on June 22, 1957, at Shorewood Presbyterian Church.
Perhaps it was her own love of learning and of history that instilled in her a passion for teaching, to which her children will attest. She was an alumna of Smith College and received her Bachelor’s and Master’s of Teaching degrees from Colgate University. After Colgate, she taught at Sherburne-Earlville High School, New York. Later, while a teacher at Belmont High School, Massachusetts, she went on to complete additional Advanced Graduate Studies at Lesley College in a pioneering program called Computers in Education. At Belmont she wrote and received one of the first grants offered by Apple Computers. With this grant, she created a Computer Writing Lab for students with special needs. She also created “Project Sandcastle,” a pilot project for teenagers across Massachusetts to connect via “electronic mail” and for them to create monthly video broadcasts. Her pioneering work using computers in education culminated in her becoming coordinator and a fellow of the newly formed Christa McAuliffe Center at Framingham State College. As a fellow, she traveled to Moscow in 1996 on an educational exchange visit. Marilyn completed her teaching career as an assistant professor of English and Education at Quinnipiac College in Connecticut.
In retirement Marilyn continued to be active in education and stayed current in her field. She remained an outspoken advocate for the importance of education in society. To meet her was to recognize her as a force for change. She and Guy continued their love of learning by taking courses together at UW-Madison, joining book groups, soaking up the art and music of Madison, and traveling. Yet, she always had time for her friends and colleagues. She nurtured these relationships all of her life, a testament to doing unto others as you would have them do unto you.
And through it all, she was always Mom, Nonny, Aunt. Family was foremost for her. While we have lost her, we have all been blessed by her love, her devotion, and her belief that while we may be good, we can all seek to be better. Her passing was abrupt, yet she faced it with courage and calm and a sense that she was ready for the next journey. She has left a legacy that we carry forward, not only because it would be her wish, but also because it’s the right thing to do. To paraphrase a line from Shakespeare’s Hamlet, good night sweet princess, and may flights of angels sing thee to thy rest. Rest in peace, Marilyn J. Martin.
There will be a memorial service for Marilyn on Tuesday, Nov. 22, at 3:00 pm followed by a reception until 5:30 at Cress Funeral Home located at 3610 Speedway Rd, Madison.
In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to Madison Children’s Museum, Madison Public Library, or Agrace Hospice of Madison.
Please share your memories at www.cressfuneralservice.com
Cress Funeral & Cremation Service
3610 Speedway Road Madison