FAYETTEVILLE, Ark . – Marion Claire Rogers Orton, 83, passed away on Monday (Sept. 12, 2011) at her home in Fayetteville, Ark.
She was a member of First United Presbyterian Church of Fayetteville, where she had been an active member for over 50 years.
She was preceded in death by her parents, Dr. JCT and Fanny Rogers of Urbana, and later of Fayetteville, and by her husband, Dr. William Rolen Orton, mathematics professor at the University of Arkansas.
She is survived by her children, Lori Ann Orton Vu and husband Tri of Jacksonville, Fla., William Rolen Orton III of Fayetteville, Ark., Lisa Marion Orton of Odenton, Md., and Benjamin Rogers Orton of Quepos, Costa Rica; two grandchildren, Nicholas Vu of Seattle, Wash., and Jessica Vu Angrisani and husband Michael of Los Angeles, Calif.; sister, Joanne Stewart and husband Charlie of Fayetteville, Ark.; and brother, Tom Rogers and wife Alice of Naperville.
Marion was born on June 22, 1928, in Rochester, Minn., but at age 4 moved with her family to Urbana, where she graduated from Urbana High School in 1946.
She attended Carlton College for two years and graduated from the University of Illinois in 1950 with a BA in philosophy.
She later took additional courses at the University of Washington and the University of Arkansas.
Marion lived in Paris, France, for one year with husband Bill under a Fulbright program in 1951; one year in Seattle, Wash., where Bill had an exchange professorship at the University of Washington in 1965; one year in India while Bill worked for USAID in 1967; and also one year in Tehran, Iran, under a Fulbright program in mathematics in 1977.
Starting in the 1960s and over the years, Marion was involved in numerous clubs and organizations as an active member or in leadership positions.
These included the Maple Hills Garden Club; Outlook Club; Ozark Society; American Association of University Women; League of Women Voters; Northwest Arkansas Riding Club; Butterfield Trail Village; Ozark Guidance Center; Arts Live; Habitat for Humanity; Fayetteville Open Channel; Community Access Television; OMNI Center for Peace, Justice & Ecology; and the Tuesday Brown Bag Book Club at the United Campus Ministry.
Marion served on the City of Fayetteville Board of Directors for 12 years, and acted as mayor for two of those years. As a result of being a city director, she served on the Northwest Arkansas Criminal Justice Council and was appointed by the governor to the Advisory Council for the Arkansas Department of Local Services. In her capacity as mayor and board member, Marion encouraged citizen participation in government and an informed electorate.
Because of Marion's service in a variety of roles and positions to make her city of Fayetteville and state of Arkansas a better place, she was one of five women recognized by a coalition of women's civic organizations as part of Fayetteville's Women's History Month in 2001.
At the 50th anniversary of the League of Women Voters of Arkansas in 2005, Marion was one of the Hall of Fame recipients. She was also honored by Community Access Television in 2010 as one of the organization's founders.
Marion saw this media as a means for the League of Women Voters to interview candidates and inform citizens, for the Ozark Guidance Center to conduct parenting classes, for the Ozark Legal Services to give their puppet shows to teach the community about common legal problems, and for the general public to express themselves.
Marion's achievements include: working with the League of Women Voters (LWVs) of Washington County to remove the requirement to buy a poll tax in order to vote; handing out applications at women's groups to find people interested in serving on boards and commissions; initiating the Pollution Control Committee, from which arose Fayetteville's first Recycling Center which she managed for several years; helping found Fayetteville's Public Access Television; working with other volunteers to make Lake Fayetteville a city park rather than a development; contributing to the movement to make Buffalo River a national park rather than be dammed by the Corps of Engineers; and encouraging Fayetteville to adopt a strong sign ordinance, which resulted in a more beautiful city.
Marion also spoke to students on such subjects as Iran, India, recycling solid waste, city government and ballot issues. She helped present workshops for teachers on environmental subjects, discussed city government in university political classes, and spoke on city solid waste problems to industrial engineering students.
Apart from Marion's many civic and community interests, she was a devoted and caring wife and mother. Marion encouraged her husband in his interests, such as birding, stamp collecting, genealogy and gardening. She encouraged her four children to appreciate the diversity of people and to develop their own talents and interests.
The family enjoyed camping on the Buffalo River for several weeks each summer. They also spent an entire summer camping around Europe and learning about that part of the world.
Marion and Bill joined the University of Arkansas Math Department on numerous canoe trips on the Buffalo River.
After Bill died in 1990, Marion and her daughter Lisa traveled abroad almost every year. Marion owned horses for years and loved to horseback ride in the woods on Markham Hill and elsewhere with her children and her friends. She enjoyed watercolor painting and other art forms, such as enameling and stained glass.
Marion also enjoyed early morning walks with her neighbor Joe and dogs, jaunts with Jane, and summer afternoon swims in her friend Cathy's pool.
Marion looked forward to the Christmas gathering of her family. She particularly liked to have a family "project" while together, such as painting a room or cooking international meals.
Marion always had her video camera ready to record family singing, dancing and other memorable activities. Through it all, Marion experienced God's loving kindness in the simple joys of nature, music and love of family and friends.
"For the beauty of the earth, For the beauty of the skies, For the love which from our birth over and around us lies, Lord of all, to Thee we raise this our hymn of grateful praise." - Folliott S. Pierpoint, 1864.
Memorial services will be at 1 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 17, at First United Presbyterian Church in Fayetteville.
Donations may be made to the First United Presbyterian Church, 695 E. Calvin St., Fayetteville, AR 72703; or OMNI Center for Peace, Justice, & Ecology, 3274 N. Lee Ave., Fayetteville, AR 72703.
To sign the online guest book, please visit www.nelsonberna.com.
Arrangements are under the direction of Nelson-Berna Funeral Home and Crematory.