Mary Marling, 80

Active supporter of Unity Temple, Ten Thousand Villages

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Mary Tower Marling, 80, of Oak Park, died on Oct. 12, 2017. Born in Detroit, Michigan on April 17, 1937, she graduated from Grosse Pointe High School, then earned a B.A. in Economics from the University of Michigan and an M.A. in Russian Studies from New York University.

Deeply committed to her family, her community, and the Unity Temple Unitarian Universalist Congregation, she was also an avid sports fan, cheering loudest for the Detroit Tigers, U of M football, the Detroit Red Wings and later, the Chicago Cubs. Deeply superstitious about sports, she believed that ironing during games brought victory to her beloved Tigers. The colors maize and blue dominated her wardrobe. She believed in keeping traditions alive and faced strong resistance each Christmas by insisting on making English plum puddings, a tradition her daughters are almost certain to continue. A quilter and knitter who tackled many craft projects with an "I can make that" attitude, she was also an excellent bridge player who converted to online matches in recent years. She played classical piano and was a true music lover.

Mary would want you to know that she recently celebrated 38 years of sobriety and was a firm believer in the power of Alcoholics Anonymous. She supported many in joining "The Club" as she called it and would want to assure you that you are not alone.

She liked having a sense of purpose and rarely sat idle. Her final job was as bookkeeper for the local, non-profit Ten Thousand Villages fair trade shop, combining interests in orderly numbers and doing good.

An optimist, she smiled often and loved completely. Curious and playful, she lived on her own terms. Attempting to cut back on sweets, she decided to no longer eat round cookies and firmly stuck by that rule for years, despite the scarcity of square options. She was an extrovert and thrived when surrounded by people, but in her final moments, she was with the two people she cared for most deeply in this world, daughters Jennifer Marling and Carrie Bankes.

Mary is also survived by her grandchildren, Julia, Abby and Will Bankes, who knew her as "Bama" and brought her endless joy; her son-in-law, Steve Bankes, whom she adored; her brother, John Tower (Susan); her sister, Sue Conklin (Robert); her many nieces, nephews and cousins; and lots and lots of good friends — some of whom she'd known since early childhood. She is preceded in death by her parents, Lewis and Virginia Tower.

In lieu of flowers, she would likely suggest shopping at Ten Thousand Villages for a gift for a friend; buying a ticket to a music event; or dropping some money in the offering basket at Unity Temple to be given to charity. She was also a supporter of Smile Train and Heifer International.

A celebration of her life will be held at Unity Temple on Saturday, Dec. 2 at 2 p.m., 875 Lake St., Oak Park. Round cookies will not be served.

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Diane Isanhart Bankes  

Posted: October 21st, 2017 8:17 AM

I remember Mary for her Christmas letter, it was like a diary for our mutually loved children, grandchildren, and genealogy. She was a gracious, kind and bright. She will always be in our hearts. See you on the other side. Diane

Teresa Powell from Oak Park  

Posted: October 20th, 2017 5:20 PM

Mary was also a great supporter of Celebrating Seniors, helping with planning and support of this important project. I will miss her smile and love of life!

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