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Marlene Elsie Newby

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Marlene Elsie Newby

September 03, 1933 - January 07, 2013

In Loving Memory

Marlene Elsie Newby was born on September 3, 1933 to Tressa and Leslie Thompson. Marlene was born in Los Angeles, California but grew up in Seattle, Washington. Her mother divorced Leslie when Marlene was very young and married Mitch Mondala when Marlene was seven years old. Mitch and Tressa had three children: Victoria, Nancy and Michael. Marlene recently recalled that Mitch treated her as one of his own children and worked to cultivate and support her interests.

Marlene met her future husband, John Reid Newby, while working with him as a medical photography intern at the Virginia Mason Clinic. They married on June 19, 1957. Their first child, Nancy, was born on June 6, 1958. Patrick was born on October 8, 1960 and Teresa was born on September 8, 1963. The family bought a house overlooking Lake Washington – not far from Marlene’s childhood home. The Newbys regularly visited Marlene’s relatives. They also enjoyed many trips especially to the Olympic Peninsula and Birch Bay (north of Bellingham). Marlene worked to foster the growth of her young children and taught catechism classes at Our Lady of the Lake Catholic Church.

In 1967, the Newbys moved to Bozeman, Montana. During her time in Montana, Marlene discovered her love for the outdoors, ghost towns and making crafts to sell and the Gifts of the West store. She regularly skied with her family at Bridger Bowl. During the summer, the family enjoyed camping trips to various parts of western Montana and to Yellowstone National Park. In 1968, Marlene went to work as a histologist at Bozeman Deaconess Hospital and enjoyed that work.

During 1971, the family moved to Des Moines, Iowa. The decision to leave Bozeman was difficult but was borne of economic necessity. Marlene adjusted to Iowa well. As with everywhere she went, Marlene made a number of strong friendships in Des Moines. She obtained employment as a histologist at Broadlawns Medical Center in Des Moines. While working full time and caring for her family, Marlene attended school at Iowa State University to obtain her associates degree for cytology. Upon completing her degree, she moved into a position as a cytologist at Broadlawns. During her time in Des Moines, Marlene and her family enjoyed visits with her sister Nancy. Nancy lived with her family in nearby Omaha, Nebraska.

The family moved to Long Beach, California in 1976. Her time in Long Beach is perhaps best described as one of transition. She and John legally separated in 1981. Marlene also pursued a new career path. She found that work in the medical field did not satisfy her social nature and desire to help others. In 1983 (at age 50) she enrolled at California State University Long Beach to pursue a bachelor’s degree in a relatively new field termed recreation therapy. Her focus was on recreational therapy for the elderly.

Upon completing her degree, Marlene moved with her then significant other, Mike Atkinson, to Vashon, Washington. During the same timeframe, Marlene’s former husband John (who she maintained an amiable relationship with) and their daughters also moved back to the Seattle area. Son Patrick moved back to Montana.

In 1989 Marlene initiated a small adult day care program called Time Out. It was located at the Lutheran Church with only three participants and two volunteers. The program grew and became certified and supported by the State of Washington. Marlene eventually received a State of Washington Governor’s award for her pioneering work in helping to introduce a new elder care approach to the area. The program moved to Vashon Community Care Center in 2001. Marlene stayed on until her retirement, at the age of 74, in 2008.

Marlene’s favorite pastimes and interests are varied and many. She loved visiting with her many friends, reading (voraciously), doing all types of puzzles, PBS (Downton Abbey, Doc Martin), going to plays and movies, and listening to classical, jazz and current music. Marlene had a sweet spot for animals. During the past 20 years she rescued and cared for countless stray cats. Sweet Pea, Marlene’s last cat, passed away at age 20 shortly before Marlene. Marlene enjoyed keeping current with the news, loved fashion and design, and adored her monthly book club. She was also very active in her community. She enjoyed volunteering with many different organizations such as the Soroptimists, Vashon Island Pet Protectors, various political causes, Breast Cancer awareness groups and political campaigns. She was tireless.

Marlene suffered a stroke on June 27, 2012. She passed away with her children by her side on January 7, 2013 due to complications of the stroke. Marlene is survived by her sisters Victoria Mondala and Nancy Kroeger, daughters Nancy and Teresa Newby, son Patrick Newby, sister-in-law Linda Lee Black, and nephews Todd and Chad Kroeger and Courtney and Stacey Bales. She was preceded in death by her stepfather Mitch, mother Tressa, brother Michael and former husband John.

Funeral Information

The funeral service was held at 11:00 AM on Friday, January 11 at Holyrood Cemetery in Shoreline, Washington.

A memorial service will be held on Saturday, January 26th, from 11:30 - 2:30pm at the Vashon Lutheran Church.

Donations Information

The family asks in lieu of flowers, a donation be made to:
Vashon Community Care
In Memory of Marlene Newby
15333 Vashon Highway Southwest, Vashon, WA 98070

Following are observations regarding Marlene by friends:

“She was and will always be my gentlest friend. I prize gentleness and like to say that with all the suffering in the world all that is left is to be gentle with each other.” ~Esther

“I first met you when I moved in with Teresa and Nancy and since I never had a caring Mom, I was amazed how looked at your daughters and chatted with them as if they were your true love and friend for life. I was also amazed that you told them that you loved them. Wow, I thought to myself, a Mom telling her daughters that she "loves them. Oh boy, this is strange since I never had anyone tell me if I was liked or disliked as a child and into adulthood. I was surprised. I called my friend and asked her if it is normal for a Mom to tell her child that "she loved them." Oh boy, what have I been missing? Then one day and it was a Christmas Eve day, you came over with Dad and we sat down and ate, chatted and before you left our little house you told me that you loved me and gave me a hug. A BIG HUG! You touched my heart in so many ways that I did not know if I should cry to laugh, be happy or sad, be jealous or just accept, or just accept the love that you showed for me. I called you Mom next time that you came over and you held me and said it again and did some baby talk like you always did which I loved. I want you to get well and I am so sorry that I have not come over to see you. No excuse except finances. That is all. I know that I have Nancy and Teresa forever and I want you to get better so I can love you back.” ~Rosa

“I remember you Marlene from your days at the Senior Center - you were so involved and appreciated for what you did. Then at the Vashon Community Care Facility. You were recognized by your fellow workers as a wonderful person who served the residents with love and understanding. Claire and I were present at your retirement. The appreciation expressed for your service was a wonderful tribute. Also I can't forget our common background with good old Roosevelt High School. I was fun taking you to the Golden Grads reunion luncheon. We both had a good time visiting with our "Old school buddies" I was happy to be of service to you when I took you to your doctor's appointment. We enjoyed telling our experiences on Vashon while waiting for the Ferry I treasure my memories of our common bonds” ~John

“The Break Time Program took the participants to Dockton Park and we had a lunch and watched people eat and play at the park. When Marlene took our group to the Dockton Park , we flew kites and went out on the dock and had a wonderful time. I think Marlene's guided tour of Dockton Park was better than the one we had today. Please tell Marlene that she did a wonderful job of guiding the staff and volunteers to meet the needs of our participants. I was always grateful for the opportunity to help Marlene.” ~John

"Today I went to hang out with Nancy’s momma. I walked in her room and she was sitting on the edge of the bed working with Margie. We asked her if she wanted to get in her wheelchair and go for a spin and she said "why yes". So I was able to see her get up and walk with her walker to her wheelchair (with some assistance) which was cool to see. We got her a sweater and a blanket and headed outside. It was a nice evening so we went around the block looking at flowers and the trees that are starting to change colors. We decided to go a bit further and next thing we knew, we had gone about a half mile and had a nice view of the water and the Olympic Mountains . At one point we had to take to the street and I told Marlene that we would just pretend to be a car but she had to signal when we turned. Of course, I forgot to remind her to signal as we rolled down the streets. We had a nice time and when we got back we did a few small puzzles. After the second one, she looked at me and said "Ok, I'm done". LOL we got her all comfy in the bed and then I was dismissed! "Ok dear... your go home know". She was probably tired of hearing me talk and asking her questions. It's really great to see her doing so well and so working hard. Margie said that she had stood up for 1.5 min without assistance! Pretty impressive. Oh, at one point during the walk, we came across a cat sitting in a yard. Marlene made me stop and then she broke into animal talk... 'Hi bubbies, what are your doing out here, such a cute kitty'." ~Scott

“Things I remember: I would phone Marlene after shopping at Thriftway and ask if I could come over for a visit. She ALWAYS said “Sure, come on over”. We would have such long, interesting and fun talks that it was hard to leave and I would invariably feel like I had overstayed my visit. She would always tell me “not to be silly”. I always felt so welcome. If the weather was good, we would a lot of times go for a walk – sometimes just all around town; other times, other places. We would oftentimes make the comment “simple pleasures”, which sums up what we so enjoyed together.”

She particularly enjoyed the West Side Highway walk and then afterwards we would sometimes take a drive around the back roads and enjoy the scenery. Our last walk was through town and a stop at the farmer’s market where we got salted caramels. We were planning on going for salted caramel ice cream, but never made it. It was such a pleasure to know that I was always welcome at her house where we could talk and laugh, and I would always feel better and like I had “gotten a lift” after I left. We laughed a lot.” ~Molly

“I want you to tell her that Paula is thinking of her and sending my love. I do have several wonderful memories shared with Marlene. One that comes to mind tonight is the time that the 2 of us drove into Seattle (she drove) and attended a gala party help at Dale Chihuly's glass blowing studio down by lake Union. ( I think that is where it is) anyway, I had been working with Marlene at Breaktime, and had been involved with teaching art classes through a wonderful grant funded by a foundation created by Dale Chihuly himself, called Seniors Making Art. Anyway, the various artists and sponsors were invited to this really nice party there. She and I laughed a lot and wined and dined a bit.” ~Paula

“And my memories of your Mom are so vivid. She has the most amazing smile. One summer she drove to our house with an entire case of Nancy Drew mysteries...just for me. I remember reading one book right after the other. All of a sudden it was August. Your Mom said she just thought I'd enjoy them. I believe I read the entire case twice before I gave them back.” ~Debbie N. K.

“Your mom has inspired and help mold me for who I am now. Due to the example she helped set for me, today I strive and have succeeded in having an non-confrontational relationship with my ex-spouse. Today we, just like the Newby's of the 80's :-) spend our holidays together with our kids as a family. I fondly remember spending holidays with the Newby's, Jack included and remember being amazed at the lack of drama with divorced parents and their kids without a multitude of others around. In fact it was so calm and normal, I had to throw a little trickery in UNO to spice things up!! I am happy to report that your mom and dads example was a gift to me that has enriched my life.” ~Michael

Last winter... I believe it was Jan or Feb Marlene took me for tea at the tea shop in Vashon. (Marlene has been my most avid listener over the years). As she looked out the window at the rain pouring down and the endless line commuter traffic I asked her to tell me "Could you share with me something you have learned over the years ?" A bit of wisdom?" She turned and looked at me and said, "What I have learned? That what is important is that I am sitting here, right not with You Debbie having tea". We did talk a bit about living in the moment and how doing so can bring peace to the rest of our world. Being saddled down with worry never does any one any good.” ~Debbie

Your mom and I were colleagues at Vashon Community Care Center. Those were good and busy days. We'd pass in the hall and slowly became better acquainted. I only ever felt kindness radiating from Marlene and the gentlest of spirits. An angel really, for me. A mentor for the aged most assuredly. I learned much from observation. Then she became a neighbor to our adopted aunt Gretchen. You helped become family to her too and looked out for her and we admired that.

You loved coming to see Helen and we enjoyed many band concerts together. Your interest in her gave you great honor in my life, that you would help mentor her as well, meant the world to me. ~Nancy P



Gathering and Other:  Map to Vashon Lutheran Church