MARILYN LILLIS FARR DEWITT – Centenarian, 100 years old
Marilyn Lillis Farr was born on October 15, 1920 in the Town of Buckland, in northwestern Massachusetts along the Mohawk Trail. Her older brother, Robert, was born three years earlier but died before she was born of the Spanish Flu. Her parents, Julian and Mary Farr, were active in the community and attended the Baptist church. Julian ran the Railway Express Office. Marilyn graduated from the Arms Academy in Shelburne Falls, MA where she was affectionately known as “Midge” because of her tiny stature. She continued her formal education at the Northampton Business College and then, as America’s involvement in World War II became inevitable, she enrolled in the US Navy Wave Training Program and was eventually stationed in Seattle, Washington as a Specialist-Q, working in Communications as a telegrapher or teletype operator. Late in the war, Marilyn received the first message from the South Pacific that the Japanese had surrendered and transmitted it to the White House.
After the War, Marilyn transferred to the U.S. Coast Guard for a short time and then worked at the U.S. State Department in Washington DC. There she met Daniel James DeWitt of Arlington, Virginia who was the Bell System’s Communications Representative. After a whirlwind romance, they were married just three months later. Marilyn was 35 years old, and Daniel was 25. Despite some minor objections from parents and friends because of their age difference, the couple were extremely happy and had their first child within a year. Their daughter, Carole, was born three years later.
Dan and Marilyn thought they had a good life, working hard, owning their own home, learning to live debt free, having two children, raising their beloved cats, and learning to Square Dance. But, when they became born again Christians and gave their hearts to Christ, they found a new life and great joy in serving the Lord through their local church. Their son, Robert, has been in full-time ministry for 43 years and is the Founder-Director of Golden Land Baptist Missions, a ministry of Lighthouse Baptist Church of Horseheads that plants new churches, supports schools and their own Bible college, and cares for hundreds of orphans in Myanmar, or Old Burma. Their daughter, Carole, was a pastor’s wife and an accomplished musician in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania.
Even though Marilyn endured seventeen abdominal surgeries including two C-section deliveries, one cervical disk surgery, and two hip replacements, she was always a “tough cookie” and died of natural causes. Marilyn celebrated life and, even after the loss of their daughter to cancer thirty years ago, she was always full of love and merriment. Recently, sitting in her community center, waiting for a Covid vaccine, she entertained everyone by singing “I’m an old cow hand from the Rio Grande. And I learned to ride ‘fer I learned to stand…” But the only time she ever rode a horse, the ranch hands heard her wild protests and yelled “Don’t forget to duck!” as her mount returned to the barn at breakneck speed.
Marilyn is survived by her husband, Daniel James DeWitt who, after 66 years of marriage, still thinks “Specialist Q” stands for Cutie, her son, Robert Winston DeWitt, her daughter-in-law, Carolyn Ruth DeWitt (who owns Honey Bears Daycare), four grandchildren: Amanda Ruter, Grace DeWitt, Matthew Wendal, and Jeremy Wendal, as well as nine great grandchildren.
Funeral services with military honors are being arranged by the Barber Funeral Home and will be held at the Lighthouse Baptist Church, 209 Gardner Road in Horseheads, on Wednesday, August 18th 2021. Family and friends are invited to visit there from 6:00 pm to 7 pm, with the Marilyn’s service and honors commencing at 7 pm. Interment will be at the Arms Cemetery in Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts.
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