Alan Aubrey Marriner

September 12, 2009|By MARLO BARNHART

Editor's note: Each Sunday, The Herald-Mail publishes "A Life Remembered." This continuing series takes a look back -- through the eyes of family, friends, co-workers and others -- at a member of the community who died recently. Today's "A Life Remembered" is about Alan Aubrey Marriner, who died Aug. 31 at the age of 89. His obituary was published in the Sept. 2 edition of The Herald-Mail.

Alan Aubrey Marriner would have been the first to describe himself as a thinker. Right up to the end of his life, he was learning new languages and reading everything he could get his hands on.

But the life Alan lived bore out that he also was very much a doer -- both in his community and where his family was concerned. Over the years, much of his energy for doing went toward causes for those who were less fortunate than he and his family.


"I remember Alan got his first hernia working to clear trash along Jonathan Street," said Millie, his widow.

Alan joined the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in the 1960s so he could actively champion the causes of the organization.

From his home in Washington state, Alan Marriner Jr., one of Alan's two sons, recalled a time when a coach, the late Bob Johnson, approached him while he was playing freshman football at North Hagerstown High School.

"He said he knew my dad through his work with the NAACP," Alan Jr. said.

Sean Marriner, Alan's other son, remembered a time when he played for Federal Little League. There was a time when there wasn't a coach available for his team.

"Even though dad wasn't a real sports person, he stepped up and coached the team," Sean said.

A strong memory for Alan Jr. was the many and varied words of wisdom his father imparted to him when he was growing up.

"Now, I have two teenage sons and I find myself giving that same advice to them," he said.

Sean echoed that sentiment, agreeing with his brother that their father had high expectations and set high standards for them when they were growing up.

"Once, I was offered a trip to Hawaii, but dad didn't want me to miss that much school," Sean said.

There also was a band trip to New England, also during the school year.

"Dad drove me up for the concert and drove me right back after so I wouldn't miss too much school," Sean said.

Millie said Alan Jr. -- whom the family calls "Skip" -- was ill during part of the first grade and unable to attend school.

"Alan found a book called 'Let's Read,' and Alan taught Skip to read from that," Millie said.

By all accounts, Leslie Shrader, Alan's daughter, was credited with teaching herself to read. She is a teacher in Hagerstown.

Alan Jr. became an attorney and a certified public accountant, and Sean manages Red Lobster in Frederick, Md.

With degrees in chemistry and chemical engineering from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Alan worked as a chemist for DuPont for 32 years.

His thirst for knowledge and education earned him additional degrees from Hagerstown Community College, Frostburg (Md.) State University and the University of Maryland.

"Dad created his own software on the computer to do his taxes," Sean said. And he still used his own program even after there were commercial software packages available for that.

Toward the end of his life, Alan took up several foreign languages, sometimes writing poetry in Spanish or Italian to his wife.

Alan and Millie met when she was working as a chemist at the National Institutes of Health and Alan was at Lever Brothers, both near Washington, D.C.

Millie said she was in one of two cars stopped at a light. Alan, who knew the driver of Millie's car, ended up arranging a date with Millie from that chance encounter.

"We went sailing, but since I wasn't a swimmer, I was holding on for dear life," Millie said.

Three years later, they were married.

The birth of the couple's three children launched a lifelong love of family activities and gatherings that blossomed through several generations.

A computerized photo gallery shown at Alan's viewing ended with a recent snapshot of him holding his first great-grandchild on his lap.

Lovingly holding the 4-month-old's tiny foot in his hand, Alan looked deep into Harrison Aubrey Holmes' eyes, no doubt as he did with his own children and grandchildren years before.

"Then, Alan recited Numbers Chapter 3 and blessed him," Millie said.

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