Published: Dec 09, 2012 12:04 AM
Modified: Dec 09, 2012 12:04 AM
Marianna Dow Edgerton was born on January 19, 1919, in New Hampshire to Stephen and Stella Brownell Dow and was a direct descendant of Roger Williams. She grew up on a small farm in Massachusetts and graduated from Taunton High School. Her Quaker roots drew her to Guilford College, where she sang in the a cappella choir with J. Wilbert (Wil) Edgerton. They graduated in 1940 and married in 1943.
Marianna worked as a social worker in mental hospitals, a girls’ reformatory, and welfare departments in various cities in Virginia, Florida, and North Carolina where she moved with Wil, a psychologist. After their first child was born, she became a homemaker and volunteered in community activities, usually involving children or church. She and Wil sang in church choirs almost everywhere they lived.
When she was in her fifties and her youngest child was in junior high, Marianna earned an M.A. in biostatistics from the School of Public Health at UNC. She worked as a research associate in child development for 13 years.
In her eighties Marianna organized information about her ancestors, obtained biographies from her living relatives, and published materials about each side of her family. In 2004, she wrote a piece for the birthday of each of her children, their spouses, and her grandchildren about her life at their age, using her memories, journals, and letters. She observed constellations most of her life; Cassiopeia was a favorite because of its M shape that inverted to form her husband's initial. She had a lifelong love of word games and poetry, and she could recite poems memorized in high school even in her last days. Her sense of humor, positive outlook, and gentle strength endeared her to family and friends.
Marianna and Wil lived in 5 states and 10 cities and enjoyed them all, especially the 35 years they spent in Chapel Hill. They traveled in six continents and 40 countries and entertained foreign visitors in their home. They were jointly awarded the Distinguished Service Award for outstanding and prolonged service to Guilford College in 1991. In 2000 they moved to Friends Homes West in Greensboro and enjoyed the community of friends and activities there.
Wil died on October 1, 2012. Marianna took great pride in her four children and their spouses, David and Alison Hay Edgerton of Backus, MN; Karen and Dillon Robertson of Winston-Salem; Stephen and Dawn McKissick Edgerton of Chapel Hill; and Elizabeth and Alex Albright of Fountain, NC; and in her grandchildren, Jesse Edgerton, Nathan Robertson and his wife Michelle, Marianna, Chloë, and Travis Edgerton, and Silas Albright. She appreciated all the joys she experienced in her long life.
Memorials may be made to the J. Wilbert and Marianna Dow Edgerton Scholarship Fund at Guilford College, Greensboro, or to a charity of the donor’s choice.
A celebration of Marianna’s life will be held at a future date.
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