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Dorothy Ford Marlin

Dorothy Ford Marlin (“Dee”) died at home on October 29, 2022 at the age of 95.

A longtime resident of Mill Valley, Dorothy was born in New Haven, Connecticut on August 9, 1927 to Dorothy Hugo Ford and Frank William Ford. She grew up in White Plains, New York, one of five children. She attended White Plains High School and graduated from Miss Hall’s School in Pittsfield, Massachusetts in 1945. She graduated from Vasser College in 1948 after completing an accelerated three-year program that had been established for wartime. After graduation from Vasser, she moved to Mill Valley to live with her sister, Lorraine, and brother-in-law, Ed, and taught at the Bayview School in San Francisco. Ed introduced his best friend, (George) Emery Marlin (known to family as “Tag”) to Dorothy, and Dorothy and Tag were married on April 24, 1949 at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Mill Valley. Their wedding reception was held at the Mill Valley Outdoor Art Club. Their first home together was on Hazel Avenue, on the slopes of Mt. Tamalpais; Dorothy taught at Old Mill and Park Schools in Mill Valley until the birth of their daughter Lorraine in 1951. Their daughter Barbara was born in 1953. Dorothy and Tag moved to their home in Tamalpais Woods in 1956, where they raised their family and enjoyed views of Mt. Tamalpais and Richardson Bay. The family’s favorite weekend activity was to drive out to Muir Beach and hike along the shore over the rocks, fish for perch, and cook lunch over a campfire.

Dorothy taught at Spring Valley School in San Francisco for 31 years, until her retirement in 1987. Above all, she prized excellence in education. Dorothy loved classical music, especially opera, and enjoyed reminiscing about the opera performances that she had attended at the “Old Met” in New York City, beginning with a performance of Carmen conducted by Sir Thomas Beecham, when she was just 14 years old. After moving to California, she became a regular subscriber to San Francisco Opera, attending performances with Tag and later with her two daughters. She continued to attend the opera regularly until she was in her early 90’s. By sheer coincidence (or not), the first SF Opera production that she attended with her daughters, in the early 1960’s, was Hansel and Gretel, and the very last production that she attended, accompanied by her daughters, was of that same opera, in the fall of 2019. (Moreover, she was thrilled to attend a performance of Hansel and Gretel in 2004 in which one of her grandsons, as a member of the SF Boys Chorus, sang in the role of one of the gingerbread children.)

After Tag’s death in 2012, Dorothy reinvented herself in many ways, creating the perky nickname “Dee”. Her intrinsically social and extroverted personality blossomed anew, and she made wonderful new friends who enriched her life immeasurably and brought her great joy in those later years.

Dorothy is survived by her daughter Lorraine Massa, MD and her husband Stephen Massa, MD of Burlingame; daughter Barbara Marlin-Coole of Petaluma; five grandchildren: Sean Marlin Leary, Nicholas Marlin Massa, Felicity Constance Massa, William Arthur Coole, and Luka Elizabeth Coole; and by loving nieces and nephews. Her husband Tag preceded her in death, as did her four siblings: Lorraine Ford Lee, Frank William Ford, Jr.; her fraternal twin Janice Ford Boyle, and Lois Ford Vochoska. She was also preceded in death by her nephew Frank William Ford III and her niece Diana Siemens.

A private ceremony will be held at Fernwood Cemetery and Funeral Home. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation in Dee’s memory to Miss Hall’s School, Vasser College, or SF Opera.

If you would like to learn more about our services, please contact Fernwood Cemetery and Funeral Home at: 415-383-7100 or through the form on our Contact page.

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