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Marion Wallace Farries Bretz

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092711 OBIT Marion Bretz.jpg

A significant figure on the Ruston music scene for half a century, Marion Wallace Farries Bretz, died in Bowling Green, KY, on Sept. 11, aged 98.

A mainstay of choral music at Trinity United Methodist Church, Marion taught over a thousand piano and vocal students from her Goode Street home while her husband, Marshall Bretz, taught at and headed the Louisiana Tech Music Department and served as organist and choir director at Trinity.

Marion taught piano and voice lessons, sang at weddings and funerals, directed children’s choirs and sang in the chancel choir at Trinity until 1979.
During the 1980s and early 1990s, Marion served as choir director and organist for Ruston churches, including the First Presbyterian Church, Episcopal Church of the Redeemer and the Christian Science church.

Marion was born March 29, 1913, in Jersey City, NJ, the daughter of Anna Lewis and J.L. “Laurie” Farries, and grew up in Asbury Park, NJ.

Showing early talent in music and art, Marion became organist and soloist for Asbury Park churches and played theater organ for silent pictures. After a year at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, she was accepted into Cooper Union Art School in New York City, where she was a medallist in pictorial design.

Marion worked as a fashion artist in New York, New Jersey and West Palm Beach, Fla. She wrote and illustrated a newspaper column on fashion for the department store chain Steinbach-Kresge, which later spawned the K-Mart chain.  She also illustrated for Book House for Children, Random House, and Butterick Patterns.

While in New York, Marion also pursued vocal studies. There she married Dr. Bretz in 1940.  A church music position lured them first to Cincinnati, Ohio, and later to Ruston in 1944, where Dr Bretz lived until his death in 1983.

Marion completed bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Louisiana Tech. She was a long-time member of the Pierian Club and Gottschalk Music Club.

Before retiring at age 85, Marion had worked for nearly two decades at Ruston Travel Service, leading tours for seniors to Europe, Mexico, Asia, Canada and throughout the USA.
In December 2000, she moved from Ruston to New York to live with her daughter Anne and son-in-law Richard Aronoff. There she sang in the Roundout Valley United Methodist Church choir and often sketched the Shawangunk mountain valley from her back porch. Marion moved to Bowling Green in 2008 to live with her son, Bob, and his wife, Jackie.

Marion impressed all with her geniality, zest for life and wry sense of humor. Until the last few months, she loved to sing and play the piano, never failing to reach for the high notes when singing “Oh, Holy Night,” which she had performed many times as soloist at Trinity Church.

Marion is survived by two sons, Bob and wife, Jackie, Bowling Green, and Lew and wife, Pam, Tasmania, Australia; two daughters, Lynn, Lawrence, Kan., and Anne and husband Richard, Kerhonkson, N.Y.; eight grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

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