Marian was born Feb. 13, 1925 on a homestead ranch in far northeastern Montana to Myrtle Waltman Berdan and Lynn Berdan. She was the seventh of eight children, six of whom grew to adulthood: Lee, Francis, Grace, Elaine, Marian and Ronald. She attended grades 1-8 in a one-room schoolhouse. The children and their mother moved to Malta, Mont., for high school. She attended Seattle Pacific University during the war years and worked as a welder on Liberty Ships during that period.
Marian graduated college at age 21 and took a teaching assignment on Orcas Island teaching high school chemistry, physics and math. She fell in love with teaching and her students. She went on to study at the University of Washington, Oregon State University and Syracuse University in New York, taking degrees in chemistry and a Master’s in Education. She taught High School in Othello, Richland and many years at Mount Rainier High School in Seattle.
Marian bought property on Orcas early on in her career. She was diagnosed with MS in 1963 at age 38. By 1976 she was too ill to teach and her brother Lee, with the help of some nephews, built her home on Orcas. She loved her view, the garden and “her” eagle in the old fir she watched from her “fainting couch” chaise. Marian was content and her health improved. She continued to teach by tutoring students from the Island, even having one young man live with her for a couple of years.
Marian was a caregiver most of her life. She brought her youngest brother, Ronald, with her to Orcas when she began teaching. She cared for her mother in her home in Burien for several years, bringing in her mother’s cousin, Virgie Patterson, to help, and then cared for Virgie until she died.
Marian was a strong woman of determination, compassion and faith. She inspired her nieces and nephews – sometimes whether they wanted to be inspired or not!
During her last years, Marian required 24-hour care to stay in the home she loved. She received wonderful, competent, loving care from Deb Lloyd and Sheri Gates during those seven years. She had people living with her who came to love her – people who cared for her. Marian peacefully passed away in her sleep on Oct. 24, 2014.
Marian is survived by her sister Elaine in Ottawa, Canada, and nieces, nephews and their spouses.
A memorial service for Marian will be held at Emmanuel Episcopal Church on Dec. 1, 2014 at 1 p.m. In lieu of flowers, contributions in Marian’s memory may be made to the Orcas Island Community Foundation for the Marian A. Berdan Scholarship Fund, or a charity of your choice.