Margueritte Elaine Bryan, known to friends and family as Marbie, passed away peacefully in Tucson on January 14, 2013. Born in Hutchinson, Kansas, she was the youngest of four children born to George Wilson Bryan and Maude Alice Vancil Bryan. Marbie seemed to develop some significant concepts at a very early age. She spoke of her childhood memory of running for the first time at two and being aware of a sense of “freedom” to go where she wanted to go. A concept of justice came to her early, too, when she was spanked by her mother at the age of four for not settling down, and then spanked again for crying about the incident.
After graduating from high school, Marbie attended the University of Wisconsin and received a B.A. in Education. While there, she met and married James Brault. It was during this time, also, that Marbie and Jim came upon Quakers when they attended a “faith fair” organized by the University. They found that the Quaker world view matched their own perspective. As a young person, Marbie was moved by the mystical power of life, hymns, and the teachings of Jesus, and by the age of 19 she had read the Bible. She tried various practices, including Christian Science. While with a Quaker group that worshipped in the Rathskeller at the University, Marbie realized how noisy her mind was, and it was there that she experienced a transformation through silent worship.
The couple moved east, first to Ithaca, New York, and then to Princeton, New Jersey, where Jim pursued his Master’s and Doctorate degrees in Physics, and Marbie worked for Educational Testing Services. A friend from that time remembers how Marbie often came up with challenging ideas for projects and then followed through with the hard work needed to complete them. Some of her activities were connected with Princeton Friends Meeting and others with a small but energetic group of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom.
After nine years in Princeton, the family—now including three small children—moved to Tucson in 1964, relocating because of Jim’s job at the Kitt Peak National Observatory. Marbie was grateful for opportunities to travel with Jim to such places as Europe, China, and India, and the couple hosted many overseas visitors. Marbie loved to experiment with food and encouraged others to do the same by initiating and hosting international potlucks with a foreign foods club.
At age 39, Marbie went back to school and completed a second Bachelor's degree and a Master's degree in Drama. She also took a Progroff Intensive Journal workshop, and continued journal writing throughout her life. It was through her writing that she learned to address injustice and her anger. She never stopped learning.
In 1984, after 32 years of marriage, Marbie and Jim divorced. It was at this time Marbie attended Findhorn, a spiritual community and eco-village in Scotland, to find healing. She later talked of experiencing an awakening and a new awareness of Truth and Love. Her spiritual journey led her to consider, “Where do I get wisdom?” She also studied “A Course in Miracles” and took a class titled “People Facing Change in Their Lives.”
Marbie Brault applied for membership in the Religious Society of Friends and became a member of Pima Meeting in 1985. In her letter of application, she stated that after many years of association with Friends it was time to “stand up and be counted” as she was moved by the work of the Sanctuary Movement.
Marbie believed it was important to live your beliefs and she contributed to many charities. As an active member of Pima Meeting, she served in many roles and committees, including Long Range Planning, Ministry and Oversight, Trustees, and Greeters. She also began a practice of making dolls, which would be sent to El Salvador through the American Friends Service Committee. She was asked to bring that work to Intermountain Yearly Meeting where, known as the Doll Project, it became a popular crafts activity, the creations being sent on to various communities. At Pima Meeting, Marbie was asked to take over the Homeless Hospitality project, and she kept that active for several years.
Marbie looked for opportunity for work that would combine her love of writing, acting and teaching. She engaged with Sci-Expo, a venture for schools, and went on to develop a program called Science Alive! which brought into classrooms dramatizations of famous scientists who would explain their discoveries. Marbie directed this non-profit organization for 13 years, writing scripts, making costumes, and training actors. She sometimes appeared in classrooms in costume as Madame Curie.
Community and connections were always important in Marbie’s life. She felt inspired to provide land next to her house to create a community garden for the neighborhood. She sheltered many refugees in her home, worked with women’s gatherings, and loved to open her home to her many friends and activities. She traveled the world, determined to live her life with the perspective that “everything is important and nothing is important.” She was a follower of the Dalai Lama, and one of the highlights of her life came in 2009 when she received a hug from him on her birthday. In her later years, rheumatoid arthritis curtailed her travel and activities.
A Memorial Service celebrating Marbie Bryan’s rich life was held on July 27, 2013 at Pima Friends Meeting House. She is survived by her children, Stephen Brault and wife Jill Thorpe, Lisa Midyett and husband Jay, and Jennifer Wright and husband Frank, all of whom live in Tucson. Her three step-grandchildren, from the Wright family, are Irene (deceased), Rocky, and Shane.