Marian Whaley (“Sis”) Langford died peacefully Jan. 7, 2006 in Friday Harbor at the age of 97. Sis is remembered by her family and friends as a loving mother, a dynamo of energy, and a woman of wit, charm, and intellect.
Sis Langford was born April 7, 1908, in Fort Sam Houston, Tex., the second of three children of Col. Arthur Maunder Whaley and Marian Elizabeth Samson. As the daughter of an Army doctor, she lived in many states, from Alaska to Washington, D.C.
After graduating from Vassar College in 1929 with a major in English and a minor in Spanish, she worked for the American Consulate General in Panama. She returned to New York and worked for the Spellman Fund from 1932 to 1937.
In 1935 Sis met and married a young lawyer, Malcolm S. (“Mac”) Langford. Their son Malcolm Jr. was born in 1937; son Stephen in 1940. With the outbreak of WWII the family moved to Washington, D.C., where Mac Sr. worked on the Lend Lease program. When her husband joined the Navy, Sis found herself moving again, from Rhode Island to Oklahoma to Ann Arbor, Mich., where she lived with “the boys” until her husband returned from the Pacific.
After the war the family moved back to Washington, D.C., where in 1947 son Lane was born. Sis was a leading member of organizations that included the Washington Home Rule Committee and the Middle East Institute. In addition to Spanish she also became fluent in French, and for her service to the Club d’amitie Franco-Americaine, she was honored with membership in the Ordre National de la Legion d’Honneur.
After the death of her husband in 1962, Sis moved west and earned elementary and secondary teaching credentials at the University of California at Berkeley. She taught Spanish, French, and world history in schools throughout California, and at the age of 71 earned her Masters in French Literature, with honors, at the University of Montana.
Sis retired from teaching in Napa, Calif., and eventually moved to the San Juan Islands of Washington State, where sons Mac Jr. and Lane had settled. She often visited the islands, impressing the residents by immersing herself in the chilly waters off Flat Point.
She is survived by her sister Kathleen W. Schofield of Duarte, Calif.; her son Mac Jr., and his wife Tytti of Lopez Island, parents of grandson Michael; her son Steve and his wife Joann of Oro Valley, Ariz., parents of granddaughter Jenifer; and her son Lane, also of Lopez Island, father of granddaughters Breana and Brittany.