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Marley Fein Obituary (3/22/1930 – 5/9/2019)

welcome admin-awakening-truth Monday, 20 May 2019 Hits
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On May 9th we lost our dear mother, grandmother, great grandmother, friend, and beloved community member. Marley Joy Fein lived 89 magnificent, authentically alive years.

Marley Fein was born March 22, 1930, 3 months premature and weighing 3.5 pounds, to Harry and Edith Lazarus. Marley was their only child. Marley’s close family included Edith’s sisters Rose and Florence and Great Aunt Feigie. Pauline, Edith’s mother, had 5 siblings and Feigie was the one Marley felt the strongest connection with. Harry’s immediate family included his brother Sigmund and sister Sylvia Lee, father Isaac and mother Sabina. Harry’s last name was Lazarowitz. When Harry’s family emigrated from Brailia, Romania, they came through Ellis Island in 1913, and changed their last name (or it was changed for them) to Lazarus; common for Jews assimilating into this new land. Edith’s parents were Max and Pauline Pupko. Edith and her mother and father emigrated from Warsaw, Poland in 1908 when Edith was 4, travelling on the SS Kroonland from Anterwerp to Elis Island.

Marley was born in Chicago, a city she loved. She lost her mother Edith when she was only 16, a loss Marley felt all her life. Marley struck out on her own at an early age, determined to become an elementary school teacher. She went to Sullivan High School in Chicago and then attended the University of Illinois at Champagne where she received her BA, working as a cook to get herself through.

After graduating she camped across the country, her first time camping.  Eventually she settled in LA, began teaching, married Charles Fein, and had two children, David and Amma. When the marriage ended, she raised her kids as a single mom and lived in LA for 40 years. On her first camping trip as a single mom with her children ages 4 and 6 in Big Bear California, her car broke down and the maintenance man from DeBenniville Pines, the Unitarian Universalist (UU) camp, came to the rescue. This was Marley’s first introduction to UU, and she soon became a UU member. For decades Marley and her children returned to DeBennivlle Pines, which was like a second home.

In 1971 she took her two young children (9 and 11) to live in Spain for a year, living in both Majorca and Granada—it was a grand adventure for all of them. She taught in Burbank California for 33 years and retired in June of 1992. Marley was proud to be a teacher, and loved her students. Her teaching combined her panache for caring, humor, combining practical learning and fun. She talked about her students throughout her retirement and with Facebook got to reconnect with many of them. Marley was committed to social justice and participated in the 3 week school strike that took place in 1980. Though it was hard,  she was committed to seeing it through. At 86 she was still marching for social justice issue.

At age 57 she attended her first 3 day silent meditation retreat. Her last retreat was a week before her 89 birthday. When she retired at 62, Marley decided to move to Sonoma County, even though she knew only one person. Within six months of moving, she was part of a dream group, journal group, folk dancing community, a group to set up a cooperative housing community, and the Unitarian Congregation while she was substitute teaching. The next year she was adopted into the Freeman family to be grandparents to Becca and Travis.

Marley never looked back. She often commented on how lucky she was to live in such a beautiful place, loving the trees that lined the streets, the gardens and fields nearby and the sweet smelling air. Marley joined the Santa Rosa Creek Commons, a cooperative housing community. There she made many good friends and learned new practical and leadership skills during the 17 years of wholehearted engagement in the joys and challenges of community living. During the time at the Santa Rosa Creek Commons she shared her life lessons which included:

  • Expectations bring disappointment
  • Anger and resentment hurt me
  • Family and friends are most important to well being
  • Let go of past and future
  • Live in the present
  • Have an open loving heart.

Marley was courageous and fearless.  Marley and Olive (86 and 98 respectively) participated in one of the most inspiring Women’s Marches in the country. They wore their pink pussy hats and with their walkers, marched into the dining hall where almost all of 129 companion residents were disapproving.

Marley’s most outstanding qualities were her spirit of adventure, zest for life and genuine love for people. Together these combined to create her flair for authenticity, resiliency, maximizing goodness and opportunity in every moment. She would throw herself headfirst into things she was passionate about, often leaving those nearby bemused or breathless. She said “yes!” to trekking in the Himalayas in Nepal when she was 68, camping until she was 85, swimming with dolphins and turtles, folk dancing, and a visit to never seen relatives in Brazil. She loved folk art, live music (especially mariachi bands), speaking Spanish, babies, animals (particularly Chelsea and Lacie who were dog companions for many years), and engaging just about everyone she met in conversation. Most of all, she loved her family and friends.

She was very active in the Unitarian Universalist Congregation both in LA and Santa Rosa, and loved the annual family camps where she taught folk dancing, arts and crafts and tie dye.

She loved travel; her extroverted character revelled meeting new people and her inquisitive nature loved learning about new cultures. While her international travel took her around the globe to Mexico five times, the Bahamas, Guatemala, Ecuador, Peru, Nepal, India, Turkey, multiple trips to England, Spain, Greece, Italy; France, Hong Kong, Thailand, and Singapore, she also loved her trips throughout the continental US, the Hawaiian islands, Alaska and Canada. She loved sharing in her friends trips and insisted on having their itinerary so each day she could imagine where her friends were and what they were doing.

Although Marley suffered a number of medical conditions in her last years, she remained passionate about life and interested in family, friends, caregivers and current events. She loved going out to eat, taking a drive with a friend and being near a lake, the ocean or trees. Her last words were filled with care and kindness for others.

The way she lived and died was an inspiration.

Marley is survived by her loving family; her daughter Amma Thanasanti, her son David and daughter-in-law Michelle Fein, her grandchildren Sandi, Carolyn, and Wayne (no longer with us), Becca and Travis Freeman, and her five great grandchildren Rose, MacKenzie, Freya, Kaison, and Felix and her devoted friends, Helga, Sarita, Harriet, Joni, Nancy and Mac.

A celebration of life will be held on July 13, from 1-3 PM at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation, Santa Rosa, 547 Mendocino Ave, Santa Rosa. In lieu of flowers a donation may be made to Marley Fein’s Memorial Fund, which will promote the health and empowerment of women and children. The initial recipient of the memorial fund will be the Elder Woman refugees in Uganda who Marley knew and supported.

Donations to Marley’s Memorial Fund may be made online via PayPal or credit card at:

Alternatively, checks may be made out to David Fein and sent to:  David Fein, ValuSource, 4575 Galley Rd, Suite 200E, Colorado Springs, CO 80915.

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Amma Thanasanti is the founder of organizations Awakening Truth and Whole Life Path. She is a California born spiritual teacher dedicated to serving beings. She has been committed to awakening since she first encountered the Dharma in 1979. As a former Buddhist nun of 26 years, she combines the precision and rigor of the Ajahn Chah Forest Tradition and a passion for wholeness. Amma invites you to pause to see what is liberating at the core of your human condition while also considering your well-being, your ability to know and and advocate for successively complex needs and integrate these into all aspects of daily life.
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