Gainesville - Marion Swanson Wattenbarger, homemaker, longtime resident of Gainesville, died Saturday, February 15, 2014 at North Florida Regional Medical Center.
Mrs. Wattenbarger was born in St. Louis, MO, moving to Florida before she was a year old. She grew up in and attended the public schools of Palm Beach County, graduating from Palm Beach High School in 1939. She graduated from Florida State College for Women where she served as president of Zeta Tau Alpha sorority. She was also a member of the Tarpon Synchronized Swimming Group and participated in several movies made of the group. She served as Drum Major of the all-girl band at FSCW.
After graduating, she went to Kingsport, TN where she was employed by Tennessee Eastman Corp. as a cost accountant during the period of World War II. Returning to Florida, she served as Comptroller for the Ponce de Leon Hotel. In June of 1947, she married James L. Wattenbarger. They made their home in Gainesville except for a twelve year period from 1956-1968 when they resided in Tallahassee, FL. Dr. Wattenbarger was instrumental in designing and implementing the Junior/ Community College System of Florida.
Mrs. Wattenbarger helped to establish a chapter of Zeta Tau Alpha Sorority on the campus of the University of Florida. She was a member of Holy Trinity Episcopal Church, The Gainesville Country Club, the Gainesville Women's Golf Association and the Mid-State Women's Golf Association, serving as president of both organizations. She was a long time Gator faithful, often visiting her grandmother, who was matron of the dining Hall at UF from 1906 until 1931. Her father and his brothers all graduated from UF, the youngest brother having written the song "WE ARE THE BOYS". Dr. Wattenbarger and their three sons also are UF graduates.
Genealogy was one of the hobbies that Mrs. Wattenbarger enjoyed. She was a member of the Colonial Dames of the 17th Century, The Jamestown Society, The Henricus Foundation and Clan Napier of North America. She has compiled six volumes on the ancestry of her parents and two volumes on the an-estry of the Wattenbarger family.
Survivors include: Frank and Peggy Wattenbarger of Tampa, FL; Carl and Lisa Jolley Wattenbarger of Gainesville, FL; Robert and Kellee Adams Wattenbarger of Springfield, VA; her five grandchildren and one great-granddaughter. Having influenced and changed many lives, she will be greatly missed.
Mrs. Wattenbarger lived at the Village since 2000. She enjoyed her life there with her friends. The family will have a private service at a later date. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to the James L. Wattenbarger Endowed Fellowship (payable to University of Florida, mailing address: Development & Alumni Affairs Office, College of Education, PO Box 117044, Gainesville, FL 32611) or to
. Arrangements are under the care of WILLIAMS-THOMAS FUNERAL HOME WESTAREA, 823 NW 143rd Street. Please visit her memorial page at
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Published in Gainesville Sun from Feb. 19 to Feb. 22, 2014
Williams-Thomas Funeral Homes Westarea
823 North West 143rd Street Gainesville, FL 32669