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Marilyn Crain Heath passed away at Hunt Regional Hospital, Greenville, Texas, March 6, 2021. She was born at the U.S. Army base in Stuttgart, Germany, September 29, 1951 to Vernon John Crain and Cecelia Emma (DeBell) Crain while her dad was on duty there.
She leaves her husband of 43 years, John, of Commerce, son John Paul Heath(Lisa), Lufkin, Texas, daughter-in-law Meagan Heath and grandson Aiden James Heath, Plano, Texas, sisters Patricia Lewandowski (Dan), Buffalo, N.Y. and Carol Humphreys, San Antonio, Texas, brothers Jim Gibbs, Sevierville, TN and Kenneth Crain(Micki), Georgetown, Texas, sister-in-law Merry Estrem(Dave), Carlsborg,Washington, brother-in-law Brian Heath(Sylvia), Blaine, Minnesota, closest nieces Erin Heath(Dan Wagner), Montrose, Minnesota, Nicole Crain(Eric Melvin),Cornell, Illinois, Allyn Crain, Salado, Texas, Susan Johnson (Alan),Seattle, Washington, Sarah Kankelberg (Rob),Washougal, Washington, Cindy Tschoppe(Jim), San Antonio, Texas, nephews Tom Estrem(Christina), Cottontown, TN, Bryan Crain. San Antonio, Texas, and Austin and Travis Humphreys, San Antonio, Texas. She was preceded in death by her parents, brothers Larry, Donald, Gene, and Glenn, and sons Collin Brian Heath and Alexander James Heath.
Being in the middle of eight children, she was thrust into washing, cleaning, cooking, sewing, and child-rearing duties at an early age. She often said one of her biggest mistakes in life (at age 7), was begging her mother to let her stand on a box and help her wash the dishes. She became a great cook and was able to sew over-sized dresses for her mom by scaling patterns up to a size to make mom comfortable and did such a good job that a store in downtown San Antonio exhibited them in their window and got lots of inquiries from prospective customers. Marilyn, however , had higher education on her mind and really applied herself at school and did very well . She spent a lot of time babysitting for neighbors and she quickly became in high demand because of her many skills, at times starting a meal for a working couple, helping their kids with homework, teaching them how to shine their own shoes, make their own bed, and write appreciative notes to the parents. She was often called over the loudspeaker to come to the office at school to help with students who would only talk to Marilyn. She was a chubby girl in high school, but determined to lose weight, gave up bacon and cokes and exercised in the yard, because mom wouldn't let her go out and walk around the block. The football coach had asked her to help tutor the football team when she was identified by other teachers as one with the maturity and sass to be able to deal with that clientele. When she showed up the following year after losing 40 pounds, they were amazed at her transformation, but she, having five brothers at home, knew how to deal with their change of attitude. She graduated from Sam Houston High School at age 17 and was determined to go to Southwest Texas State, but her parents forbid her from leaving home. She complied and went to San Antonio College for a year, but was able to get to Southwest Texas the next year.
She was a counsellor at San Marcos Baptist Academy while attending college and was quite effective with her problem-solving skills, homemaking abilities, and expertise with the quick-comeback which took the air out of any seemingly difficult problem. She was a mature big sister for the boarding-school girls under her care. She earned the job as Assistant Dean of Girls at the age of 20. One of her first acts was conking a senior cadet with her large flashlight when he found him forcing his attentions on a freshman girl. She went on to graduate and start on her Master's Degree in Food and Nutrition, Counselling, and Child Development which she finished in the summer of 1977 at ETSU. She moved on to East Texas State University in the Fall of 1975, despite the pleas for her to stay on with double-pay at the academy. She worked as Assistant Manager at ARA Food Service there and really made a difference with the policies and procedures and morale in the unit. She was scrutinized closely by the staff there at first , but it didn't take too long for her to develop a great deal of respect for their hard work and she felt the feeling was mutual after she left the unit. She was on duty when the football team started horsing around one night after a late practice and she blocked,(not locked), the door and made them clean it up and fix everything they'd done wrong before they left, causing them to miss bed check that night. Some disgruntled coaches showed up the next morning demanding to see the manager who had done this to their guys. When they saw it was a rather nice-looking 23-year-old and she explained calmly to them some of the legal ramifications of what they had done, they softened their tones and agreed to have some euthenics classes for the young men. She was brought to tears when the employees threw a surprise baby shower for her when she was about to leave and all the effort they went into knitting little booties, blankets, and bonnets for her first baby. She'd met this math teacher with a farm in North Dakota and they clicked , both of them having marched to the beat their own drummer and both of them marching to Commerce in August of '75. She flew up to visit the folks up there in the summer of '77, and they ended up eloping, much to the surprise of the Lansford people, most of whom were delighted. They spent summers farming and taking kids to North Dakota, and like the credit card commercials say, they were "priceless". She made many good friends there and put her counselling and homemaking skills to good use. Many liked to engage her in conversation just to hear her neat Texas accent. Throughout the years, she has taught courses at the university (one of them being euthenics), had her own day-care center for young children, given GED tests, substituted for the hospital dietician, coached a little kids soccer team, worked with WIC in Greenville, and was a great supporter of her husband and all her boys' school activities.
Marilyn was a person who was not easily intimidated, was a hard-working and effective employee and boss, a terrific mother who took no guff, a wonderful and supportive wife who put up with her husband's love of farming and sports, and a good friend to have. She never met a stranger and would always have a good story to relate to you.
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