Mary Ann Marcus

Date of Birth

November 15th, 1930

Date of Death

April 17th, 2020

Memorial Meeting

Tempe Friends Meeting


Born in Bermuda, Eleventh Month 15th, 1930 and died in Tempe, AZ Fourth Month 17th, 2020  

For our Friend Mary Ann Allen Marcus, everyday life was an art form. We remember her vivid sense of visual style, whether expressed in her tasteful and colorful attire, her warm and welcoming home, or her kind, confident, beautiful face. We remember the grace of her hospitality, the gentleness of her speech, her sense of humor and compassion, and her deep devotion to her family and our Quaker community.  

Mary Ann exhibited luminous beauty without pretension, personal simplicity without privation, and generosity without expectation of recompense. Her arrival at meetings for worship always brought soft smiles to Friends’ faces. Conversation with her brought cheer and peace to many hearts.  

Over the course of forty-one years Mary Ann served Tempe Monthly Meeting in a multitude of ways. She was a mainstay of the Counsel & Oversight Committee, offering a balance of forgiveness and sound advice to troubled Friends. She served on clearness committees for marriage and membership, hosted many Friendly Eights meals and opened her home to traveling Quakers.  

Mary Ann gave energy to many forms of service. For about 20 years, she participated in the  Quaker-initiated Prisoner Visitation & Support program, offering a listening ear to incarcerated men and women. She served on the Tempe Arts and Culture Commission and as  a museum docent, sharing her love for the visual arts and educating groups large and small. At both Friendship Village and the Faculty Wives Club she gave presentations about the life and literary career of her father, Hervey Allen, a prominent twentieth century American author who wrote Anthony Adverse and held close friendships with such literary luminaries as Robert Frost and Ogden Nash. With Susanne Alcock and LaDonna Wallen, Mary Ann Marcus made up a trio of women who celebrated birthdays and life-events together, and walked regularly in their Tempe neighborhood. Each of them made major contributions to the life of Tempe Monthly Meeting, and they each had husbands working as professors at Arizona State  University. Friends fondly remember the Quaker Women’s Art and Creativity retreats organized by these three friends.  

Mary Ann’s love for family anchored her life, starting with her parents Hervey and Ann Allen,  who inspired her lifelong interests in literature and art, and extending to her siblings Marcia and Richard. The romance and partnership with her husband Mel formed a cornerstone of her identity; it never diminished even after his untimely death. She had warm relations with each of her four children—Andrew, Annette, Alison and Benjamin - though they led lives scattered over two continents, and with her six grandchildren who ranged in age from thirty-four  to five. Mary Ann spoke of each of them with pride, and loved sharing stories about their lives.  She also often welcomed friends and relatives to live with her, notably her dear “Nepalese  daughter” Elena Henry, her nephew Russell, and for many years, her niece Felicity. 

Mary Ann loved the role of hostess, whether for groups of academics, family, or Friends. She had long relationships of mutual care and affection with her dogs, who felt free to join the party when Mary Ann’s guests came to visit.  

Sometimes to her own surprise, Mary Ann led a life filled with adventure and was no stranger to personal risk. While her motto was “coziness is all,” she gamely joined her mountaineering husband (and often his graduate students) on many field trips, including summers in the  glaciers of the Yukon, at the Mountain Research Station in the Rocky Mountains, and on a trek through the Himalayas. She and her family spent two treasured years living in Christchurch, New Zealand. In the 1960’s, Mary Ann drove from Ann Arbor, Michigan, over the still unpaved Alaska highway with her very young children, to meet Mel for a summer of research at Kluane Lake in the Yukon Territories.  

Advancing years put limits on her mobility but not on her fascination with world events and the arts, nor her deep interest in the stories of the people who came into her life. Age only served to intensify her essential sweetness. The many who loved her will miss her physical presence, but feel her spirit with us still.  

Mary Ann Allen Marcus is survived by the Marcus children: W. Andrew (Amy), Annette  (Sarah), Alison (Howard) & Benjamin (Vanessa); grandchildren: Alexandra Marcus, Rebecca  Marcus, Geoffrey Marcus, Nikko Kopp, Jack Marcus, Noemi Marcus; nieces and nephews:  Felicity Kelly, Margaret Kelly, Douglas Kelly, Russell Kelly, Katharine Allen, Hervey Allen; and  Daughters of the Heart: Elena Henry, Greacian Mary Goeke, and Lisa N. Marcus.