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Marilyn C. Watson
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Obituary for Marilyn C. Watson

Marilyn Crawford Watson slipped out of her family's embrace on August 29, after the long goodbye to which this vibrant woman was sentenced by Alzheimer's disease. An elegant woman who believed in arriving on time, and always knew when a lady should leave the party, she would have preferred to step off sooner into her bliss. Her family believes it was love that caused her to linger. Marilyn grew up gracefully in Berkeley, a pretty child, who became a strikingly beautiful woman. Born to an economist and a concert pianist, the eldest of three children attended Cal Berkeley. A 'townie,' who pledged the Kappa Alpha Theta sorority, Marilyn majored in music before earning her elementary school teaching credential. While teaching at her alma mater, Cragmont Elementary, she incorporated music into her curriculum with piano, autoharp and her warm alto voice. Marilyn was the kind of girl who could hit a line drive in softball, slice a tennis ball to skim the net, and water ski without getting her hair wet. She could camp without fuss or slip into a ball gown and pull the air out of the room as she danced. Before she graduated from Cal in 1952, Marilyn's father introduced her to the fair-haired, blue-eyed athletic Kappa Sigma, Linn Watson, a business major heading into a brilliant banking career. The couple were married two years later, launching a 63-year love affair that brought them trials, triumphs, travel and two sets of twins. Throughout her college years, Marilyn, impassioned by the operatic music of composer Richard Wagner, handed out programs during Wagnerian opera performances at the San Francisco Opera, dreaming of one-day attending the Wagnerian Opera Festival in Bayreuth, Germany. The first time she realized her dream, her firstborn, Linda Watson, a now world-renowned soprano, was premiering in Bayreuth. Two years after Linda was born, Marilyn delivered twin girls, Lisa and Lauren, followed nearly eight years later, by the birth of twin boys Douglas and David, during which she conquered cancer. While raising her family, she directed church choirs, consulted on weddings, and fundraised for causes that mattered to her, such as Hospice and the American Cancer Society. Marilyn always entertained creatively, generously and with a grace that made her guests feel special. She turned holidays into traditions; activities into events. She threw themed children's birthday bashes, mother-daughter teas, and prom parties. Her grown-up parties were elegant, fantastic, fun and well attended. Marilyn had a wide circle of friends, yet she confided in a prize few, keeping secrets safe and holding her own counsel. She taught her children to look after each other and stick up for themselves, to give generously and receive graciously – with a well-written note. Marilyn and Linn shared the helm of the family, vigorously, enthusiastically, generously, and much longer than most, with wisdom and patience, humor and devotion. Their children and grandchildren grew up with the love of a beautiful woman, whose strength made them feel safe, whose intelligence taught them to think, whose standards encouraged them to reach, and whose love of family fostered their own. During the decade in which she slowly shut the door on her life, her family lost her by degrees. Yet, thanks to her husband and children, she never lost her elegance, her dignity or her love. Marilyn Crawford Watson is survived by her beloved husband, Franklin Haskell Watson III, her children, Linda, Lauren (John), Lisa (Philip), Douglas (Jenny), and David (Julie), as well as 12 grandchildren, her brother, Robert L. Crawford (Sue), six nieces and nephews, and many more family members and friends. Those wishing to make a contribution in her memory may consider Hospice of the East Bay, American Cancer Society or Alzheimer's Association. Plans for a celebration of life are pending.

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