I first met Marilyn when she recruited me to raise money for the renovation of our Opera House in
. I think it was full of pigeon poop at that time. What a delight to be part of that effort. The Opera House anchors the corner of Broadway and Short and gives hundreds of organizations a place to perform. Lexington
Next Marilyn took me on a tour of the empty YMCA building to talk about renovating it for the Lexington Council of the Arts now LexArts. That led to years of involvement with that organization and my service on that board for over six years. Another anchor for the arts in
I had just married Robert “Bart” Bartella when I met Marilyn. Bart was 32 years older than I. Marilyn chuckled when she told me about when she and Franklin first married. While the age difference was only twelve years, the greater gossip fodder was that Marilyn was Christian and
was Jewish. She assured me the interest in mine and Bart’s marriage would get old with time and become very boring to gossipers. Franklin
One night many decades after meeting Marilyn, we were chatting at the airport as we each waited for a family member. When
came down that escalator, the rest of the world faded away. As I watched them embrace and gaze into each other’s eyes, I saw the kind of love that can bridge whatever differences individuals may bring to the relationship. This kind of love encouraged Marilyn to convert to Judaism and lend her considerable talents to all manner of Jewish organization including being national President of Hadassah. Franklin
When Southern Baptists were first becoming radicalized, I was still Baptist (although even then a member of a very progressive Baptist church). Some of the evangelist actions of the Baptists during this time were extremely offensive to Jews. Marilyn pulled me aside at a wedding we both attended and said, “Brenda, what can we do about this? How can we build a bridge that will be beneficial for all?”
Building bridges, sparking change, inspiring others, encouraging involvement---that’s just who Marilyn was.
Rest in eternal peace, dear friend. Your work here was well done.