Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Marion Christine Ambrose Benedict

Marion Benedict was the middle child and only daughter of Edwin and Frida Ambrose. She was born on November 10, 1930 in Syracuse, NY, just two years after my father. This is my favorite photo of Marion – a glamour shot that makes her look like a Norwegian movie star from the 1950's.

When I was older and realized my Aunt Marion's birthday was the day after mine, I immediately felt a special connection with her. Though we lived miles and years apart, we'd always find a little time to talk during the month of November, especially the last few years. When my parents would call me on my birthday, my parting words to them would be "don't forget to call Marion tomorrow." I doubt they needed this reminder, but it made me feel good to think about her almost sharing a birthday with me. After my mother died, Marion was a great source of comfort to me, and I dearly miss our talks.

Marion grew up in Syracuse and Detroit, graduating from Redford High School. She married the love of her life, John Stacy Benedict, on October 19, 1952, and they made Detroit their home. They were married for 43 years before his death in 1995, at the age of 63. Stacy and Marion had three children: Stacy, Sherri, and Steve. My brothers and I were fairly close in age to them and earlier this year I posted a Photo of the Day: Cousins, which showed us goofing off for the camera.

Our families didn't get together very often while we were growing up. Maybe it was because my father traveled so much for business that he didn't want to spend much time on the road. I don't know. My family lived on the East Coast for most of these years, so I guess it was a bit of a drive to Michigan, especially with three small children. "Are we there yet?"

The Benedict's had a cottage in Point Pelee, Canada, in the 1960's, and it's there they spent their summer vacations. The Point Pelee National Park is the smallest of Canada's parks, located at the southern tip of Ontario on the north shore of Lake Erie. It's referred to by Canadians as the Carolinian Zone, since the deciduous trees found there are the northern end of a belt that begins at the Carolina coast in the United States. Who knew?

Before their children were born, Marion worked for Chrysler in Detroit. Here's a page from a 1955 Chrysler brochure, just to put the time period in perspective. When the kids were old enough to go to school, Marion went back to work, first for Bendix, and then for WJBK-TV, Channel 2, which was Detroit's longtime CBS affiliate. Marion worked at Channel 2 for a long time and absolutely loved her job as the switchboard operator and receptionist.

One of her sons recently told me that one of her favorite memories working at CBS was when she was working a late afternoon shift during the Summer of '79.  Marion answered the phone to a very recognizable voice – Mickey Rooney – famous for his his film work in Babes in Arms, National Velvet, The Black Stallion, Bill and the Andy Hardy film series, opposite Judy Garland. Rooney was in Detroit for a stage play, Sugar Babies, and he called from the hotel to ask if there were a Mickey Rooney movie marathon being shown on any of the local stations. Marion, realizing it wasn't being shown on her station, pulled out her TV Guide and gave him the information. Mickey replied, "You're a doll, Marion," giving her goosebumps. A movie star, someone she watched growing up, called her "DOLL" and said her name. My cousin said the story still made her giddy 35 years later!

Marion was 80 years old when she died. I know that sounds like a long time to live, but when it's your mother, or your aunt, or your friend, it's still too early. She had been living with pain for several years, and it was a difficult time for her and her family. Marion was also a dutiful daughter, who unconditionally cared for both her parents as they aged, without much help from her two brothers. She was an amazing woman. Marion died on March 17, 2011, one day shy of the two-year anniversary of the death of her older brother, and my dad, Ed.

Marion's other son and I remarked how odd it was that the three siblings (Ed, Marion, and Marty) and my mother, all died within a span of two years. I loved his comment that maybe God didn't want to break up the sets. I do hope they are having their own family reunion now, looking down on all their orphan children, and smiling.


  1. What a Wonderful job! You did a lot of good research and some elegant writing! There were a lot of great pictures I had never seen before, they brought back a lot of good memories. My Mom really loved those talks with you! Thank you so much Sarah! Love, Stacy (John) Benedict

  2. Thanks John. It wasn't hard with such a beautiful subject! I'll be sure to send you all copies of these photos that I've scanned. There are many more to come. ~Sarah

  3. Hi Sarah, Thanks! Any more pics would be great! I suppose I meant to use the word eloquent above but, after looking up elegant (gracefully refined and dignified) I'll stand behind it! Once again GREAT Job!