Marianne Keating, 70, of Whately, Massachusetts, died on Friday, October 12, 2012 at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, New Hampshire.
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Marianne was born in Portland, Oregon, on January 22, 1942. She grew up in Ashland, Oregon on her parents' pear-and-apple orchard, where at the age of 15 she became the picking-crew boss, and ran the D2 Caterpillar tractor, staging fruit boxes throughout the orchard. Despite the busy schedule of a farm girl, she made her professional debut, at the age of nine, as a fairy in the now-famous Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland.
Marianne went to high school at the Anna Head School in Berkeley, California. Pam Street, a classmate, remembers her this way:
"I enjoyed her intelligence, her quick wit, and her candid honesty about herself. She was always very genuine – during a period in a person's development when there is normally a lot of pretense and the trying-on of personal styles, she was without artifice of any kind. She paid no attention to cliques or status in connecting with her classmates, and seemed to appreciate everyone. It was obvious that she had an impressive intellect from the beginning. It was just natural and logical that she would be our leader back then [she was president of her class], and a great loss to us now."
An AFS trip to Germany while at Anna Head turned her into a life-long traveler.
Marianne graduated from Wellesley College, class of 1964. At the Parker School in Chicago she taught Spanish to the children of royalty, the political elite, and mobsters, among others. She taught at the Stowe School in Vermont, before receiving a Masters degree from UMass Amherst in 1972. Except for one year at Frontier High School, in South Deerfield, she spent the remainder of her career at Greenfield High School, where she served as Chair of the World Languages Department from 1990 until her retirement in 2000.
David Dunlap, who was her student at Parker when he was 12 years old, and is now a reporter for the New York Times, remembers:
"No matter what language she spoke, Marianne Keating never talked down to her students. Barely an adult herself in the early 1960s (at least by conventional measure), Miss Keating treated us as if we were adults, too. Rather than drum Spanish into a bunch of little Anglophones as if it were a didactic drill, she shared her passion for the language and the culture. She encouraged us with her pealing laughter, delighted us with her sly smile, and elevated us through the quiet example of her own considerable gravity and dignity. She inspired us to believe we had embarked on a journey together, teacher and student. And she caused more than one of us to fall in love.
"No wonder, then, that the journey lasted nearly 50 years. No wonder, then, that I am left wishing it could have continued many more."
During her teaching years, Marianne traveled widely in the summers – to Iran, Kenya, Egypt, Chile, England, Mexico, Afghanistan, Russia, Thailand, Wales, Ireland, China, and all of mainland Europe – always returning with tales of adventure that enlivened her classes and her friendships. She also took many groups of students to New York City museums and cultural events, and to Spain, leaving them with life-long memories.
Her travels continued in retirement: to Europe, Canada, Yellowstone, and her 50th Anna Head reunion. In recent years, much of her time was spent on the ocean at Cushing, Maine. While never what one would call a true "birdwatcher", in later years she developed a deep appreciation for those feathered descendants of the dinosaurs.
All of this she did with spirit, grace, and astonishing gumption, and always as a model of decorum and proper etiquette, despite a complicated medical history that spanned her adult life. She was a poster child for rational science. Although Marianne herself would not want to upset her friends by stating the fact, prayers were, as usual, of no use whatsoever, but modern medicine gave her 30 years beyond her genetically allotted span, and she lived them fully.
Marianne taught through three years of dialysis, and a kidney transplant, and from a wheelchair with a broken foot - a souvenir from an African photo safari. As she could be heard to say, "They'd never let me do that these days".
Marianne was preceded in death by her father, Rodney Keating, her mother, Dorothy, and her brother, Timothy. She is remembered with love and in sorrow by her companion, TR Jackson, of Corinth, Vermont; by her sister, Lucy Keating, of Lambertville, NJ; and by her many friends.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Marianne Keating Milk Bottle Restoration & Maintenance Fund, ? William Saunders, Treasurer, Whately Historical Society, P.O. Box #7, Whately, Massachusetts, 01093, to help her fulfill her long-standing ambition to restore that town icon to its former glory. Alternatively, the Franklin Land Trust, P.O. Box 450, Shelburne Falls, Mass., 01370, or Freedom to Marry, 155 West 19th Street, 2nd Floor, New York, NY, 10011, would be appropriate recipients.
Her life will be celebrated on April 6th, 2013, at the White Church, also known as the Deerfield Community Center, in Old Deerfield, Massachusetts. The times will be announced as the date approaches.
Published in The Recorder on Oct. 26, 2012