October 8, 1934 - June 10, 2013 HOUSTON, TX Marilyn C. Kenan (nee Marilyn Chatman) was born on October 8, 1934 in Norman, Oklahoma, the eldest child of Joe and Fay Naylor Chatman. She died on June 10, 2013 in the Methodist Hospital in Houston, Texas. Marilyn's most enduring and endearing qualities, in addition to her beauty and her attention to the raising of her children, were her striking wholesomeness and her genuine interest in every person she ever encountered. She had no sense of a social order of ranking, only a sense of shared humanity with those with whom she came into contact. There was no artifice in her. She was an open book for any person to read. Her friends and even casual acquaintances seemed to be aware of her special nature and tended to volunteer a recitation of their troubles to her. She kept their secrets and passed no judgment on their foibles and indiscretions.Early in life, she graduated from Norman High School and then from the University of Oklahoma with a degree in speech therapy. She was a member of Pi Beta Phi Sorority and the PEO Sisterhood. After college, she was employed in the Oklahoma City Public School System as a speech therapist serving numerous of its public schools. In 1957 she met law student Thomas J. Kenan on a blind date in Oklahoma City. The two married in 1958 and were seldom apart for the 55 years of their happy marriage. They lived in Greenwich Village in New York City during the 1958-1959 school year. During that year Marilyn traveled by train Monday through Friday to New Rochelle, New York where she was employed by the public school system as a speech therapist. During the 1959-1960 school year Marilyn and Tom lived in Paris, France, where Marilyn studied the French language and French cuisine and Tom studied French law at the University of Paris. They returned to the United States in June, 1960 and again lived in Greenwich Village in New York City while Tom practiced law in a Wall Street law firm. They became active in New York City political campaigns that year. In 1961 Marilyn became active in the civil rights movement and became the manager of a successful campaign for two candidates for city offices in the Harlem area of Manhattan. In 1962 Marilyn and Tom moved to Washington, D.C., where Marilyn worked for the Peace Corps as an examiner of the applications of prospective volunteers. In 1966 Marilyn and Tom returned to Oklahoma City where Tom established a law practice and Marilyn lavished her time raising and attending to the education of their two children, Dr. Mary Mitchell Kenan, a psychologist, and Dr. Joseph Naylor Kenan, a psychiatrist. After her children were in high school, Marilyn worked as a lighting consultant in the Hunzicker Lighting Gallery newly established by their close friends and neighbors, Marcia and Fritz Hunzicker. She worked there until she retired in 2004. In 2010 she and Tom moved to Houston, Texas.Marilyn practiced the Christian faith and was a member of St. Luke's United Methodist Church in Oklahoma City for decades, serving at the reception desk, as a Threefold volunteer, and with the mobile meals program. She was an avid fan of their music program. She then became a member of St. Luke's United Methodist Church in Houston, Texas for the three years of her life there.In addition to her husband, daughter and son, Marilyn is survived by her sister Janet Chatman and Michael Guest of Roswell, New Mexico, her brother Clark and Cathy Chatman of Austin, Texas; her sister-in-law Julia Vann Kenan of Durham, North Carolina and numerous nieces and nephews. She is also survived by her Oklahoma City and Houston PEO sisters.Memorial services will be held for her at St. Luke's United Methodist Church, 225 NW 15th Street in Oklahoma City, on Friday, June 21, at 2 p.m. In lieu of flowers, remembrances may be made to: The Music Program or Mobile Meals Program at St. Luke's United Methodist Church, 225 NW 15th Street, Oklahoma City, OK 73103.
Published in The Oklahoman on June 14, 2013