A personal note: My cousin, Marilyn Christian Smith Gearing, died last night after fighting lymphoma. She was about 74.
Marilyn was the daughter of my father’s sister, Marion. Her father, Roland Christian, was a minister in the Seventh-Day Adventist Church, who traveled a lot. We saw him and my father’s sister about once a year, when they’d pass through our town. Other than that, we had little contact with my father’s family, and my cousins. (Isn’t that a great name for a preacher, by the way?)
So when I got to know Marilyn when I was an adult (and she about 20 years older than I), she was a constant bundle of surprises. We knew she was a nurse. Found out she was dean of nursing at Loma Linda University. Learned in one visit that she was a pilot once, the better to carry out public health missions for the State of Virginia.
Marilyn retired, and traveled. Taking up where her father left off, she’d drop in on my parents, unexpectedly, every year or so. In my father’s last two years, he was greatly pleased when she and her husband would drop in to sing at his bedside.
No, I didn’t take my own advice and debrief her fully on her life. Our history sources are leaving us. Call one of yours, today: Thank them for their contributions, and write down what you learn.
Some of Marilyn’s exploits were picked up in Loma Linda Nursing in 2003 — it’s in .pdf form, starting on page 16, with the cover photo.
Her husband, Walt, said there is a memorial service scheduled for February 16, 3:00 pm. at the University Church Chapel at 11125 Campus Street in Loma Linda, California.