Mariana White Hitchner

Mariana White Hitchner

SALISBURY—Mariana White Hitchner died Thursday, Nov. 22, 2012, at her home in Salisbury, Md. She was 93.

Mariana was born Dec. 10, 1918, in China, the eldest child of missionaries.

The White family ended its relief work in China in 1927, moving to Cape May Court House, New Jersey, but Mariana's interest in the larger world never diminished. An excellent student, she entered Douglass College (now part of Rutgers University) at age 16, graduating in 1939.

Prior to graduation, Mariana met an aspiring microbiologist, Stephen B. Hitchner, whom she married after several years of courtship. She was a dedicated mother from the end of World War II through the changes of the 1950s, '60s and '70s, cultivating in four sons and one daughter her academic interests and progressive values.

To facilitate Stephen's career over those years, she moved the family to Blacksburg, Va.; Amherst, Mass.; Middleton, Wis.; Berlin, Md., Lake Forest, Ill.; and Ithaca, N.Y. In Ithaca, with the children grown, Mariana became increasingly active in the community, eventually serving as a chairperson of the Tompkins County United Way and as a director of the Seven Lakes Girl Scout Council. In the latter capacity, she helped gain the Council's endorsement of the Equal Rights Amendment to the New York State Constitution.

Also during these years, Mariana was active in the Unitarian Universalist congregation, drawn by its quest for social justice and religious tolerance.

Later, after retiring to Maryland's Eastern Shore, Mariana and Stephen were founding members of a Unitarian fellowship in Chestertown and later became active members of the fellowship in Salisbury.

Before and during retirement, the couple traveled extensively, with Australia, the Soviet Union, Japan, Egypt and various Latin American countries among the destinations.

Mariana is survived by children Roger, Sarabelle, Thomas and Robert; brother Edward and sister Beatrice; eight grandchildren and one stepgrandchild. Stephen B. Hitchner Jr., her eldest son, died of cancer July 4, 1991, a tragedy that Mariana felt deeply all her remaining years. Stephen Sr., her husband of 67 years, died Jan. 1, 2011, a loss she weathered bravely.

During her final years, Mariana was supported by a local team of caregivers whose dedication was greatly appreciated by family and friends.

A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m., Sunday, December 9, at The Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Salisbury, 2812 Old Ocean City Road.

In lieu of flowers, please make donations to the Fellowship or to Maryland Public Television.

Published in The Daily Times on Dec. 2, 2012