Marilyn Dey Prince, 81, died at her home in Eskaton Village, Grass Valley, on Tuesday, February 12, 2008. She was born in 1926 in Oregon City, OR, and was the daughter of Benjamin C. Dey, of Oregon, and Hazel Sobey Dey, of California.
Marilyn was raised in New York and San Francisco. She was educated at Castelleja School, and Miss Burke’s School for Girls, through 12th grade. In 1947, she received a B.A. in history from Stanford University, finishing the four-year course of study in three years. She continued her education at Sacramento State and the University of California, Berkeley, in the 1960s and obtained a California teaching credential.
She was married in 1947 to Charles L. Prince, of Los Angeles, and is survived by her four children, Susan Dey Prince and her husband, Jim Ricker, of Dutch Flat, Benjamin Dey Prince and his wife, Kathleen, of Dutch Flat, George Dey Prince, of San Carlos, and his wife, Dee, and children Hannah Prince and Nicholas Prince, and Charles Dey Prince, of San Francisco, and his wife, Arlene, and their children, Emily Prince, Steven Prince, Mikhail Stanich, and Nicholas Stanich.
Marilyn and Charles Prince lived in Los Angeles, then Los Altos Hills and Los Altos. In 1956, when Charles purchased Prince Ford in Colfax, they moved to Auburn, and in 1957, to Alta, California. Marilyn lived in Alta until 2006, when she moved to Eskaton Village, in Grass Valley.
Marilyn taught elementary school at the Bowman Elementary School, and for many years taught first grade at the Colfax Elementary School, in Colfax, CA. A generation of Colfax children remember her fondly as their first grade teacher. She was active in school matters, and in California Teachers’ Association affairs.
She was also very active in community organizations, including the Golden Drift Historical Society, the Soroptomist’s Club of Colfax, the Dutch Flat Community Center, and Auburn Faith Hospital. She had recently become excited about the upcoming presidential election, and was a firm supporter of presidential candidate Barack Obama.
Marilyn had many hobbies. She enjoyed hiking, was a very skilled bridge player, relished card and other games, and was an avid reader.
At Marilyn’s request, there will be no service or memorial. Gifts in her memory may be made to the Golden Drift Historical Society, P.O. Box 253, Dutch Flat, CA 95714; the Dutch Flat Community Center, P.O. Box 14, Dutch Flat, CA 95714; or a local National Public Radio station. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
When my mother, Marilyn Prince, moved to Alta, Highway 40 ran through Alta and was the main route over the northern Sierra Nevada, across Donner Summit; Interstate 80 wasn’t completed until 1960. It took nearly 30 minutes to reach Colfax and an hour to reach Auburn. She would go shopping in Auburn once a month, and learned how to cook to fill a freezer to tide us over.
Mom had been raised in New York and San Francisco, then had lived in Los Angeles, and small Bay Area towns. She had never lived in a town as small, rural and remote as Alta, and it was quite a shock. Mom grew to love the area and made many close friends, but the first year was very hard for her. While Dad went to work each day, at Prince Ford in Colfax, Mom was home with the four of us. It was a lonely time, until she began finding her many friends.
One childhood memory I have is from the late 1950s. There was a truck strike and Murray’s Store, in Alta, didn’t receive its frequent deliveries of bread and milk. Mom must have had my father buy milk in Colfax, but she started baking bread. I have warming memories of coming home from school to the aroma of that fresh bread. She baked four loaves of bread every other day, and I think everyone in the family but Mom regretted the end of that strike.
Mom absolutely loved children. She started with the four of us, my three brothers and me, and branched out to teach and care for the children in the primary grades at Bowman and Colfax Elementary Schools. She’d always wanted to be a teacher, so she got her credential and headed for the classroom. I remember large piles of papers each evening, as she corrected work on the kitchen table so she could return it the next day. Mom still heard from some of her students, and often saw them on her errands in Colfax.
Never one to sit idle, Mom was also very active in community and other volunteer activities. She organized docent activities for the Golden Drift Historical Society for many years, volunteered for the Dutch Flat Community Center, and was a “pink lady” for Auburn Faith Hospital for years. She also served on the Placer County Grand Jury, was active in the Colfax Soroptimists, and enjoyed helping judge the annual crop of Colfax High School senior projects.
Each year, for over 50 years until this past October, Mom baked hundreds of big cookies for Halloween, which she decorated to look like pumpkins. We would gather with friends to decorate those cookies, and they were a beloved tradition in our small community. In fact, as time passed, many children would come to the door and ask if they could have an extra cookie for their mom or dad – and, more recently, their grandmom or granddad - who used to get them as children.
One of my favorite Mom stories happened just before Christmas in the mid-1970s. Mom was sitting in the Auburn Faith Hospital waiting room and overheard a young mother sitting nearby talking to her friend. Her son was in the hospital for minor ear surgery. She was quite upset and told her friend that there was no money for any Christmas gifts that year, partly because of the hospital expenses, and she hated thinking how disappointed her boy would be when he woke up Christmas morning to discover Santa hadn’t visited their house. Mom had just returned from a trip to Reno with friends and happened to have her winnings in her purse, several hundred dollars. After thinking a moment, when the friend went to the restroom, Mom got up and approached the young mother. She said “I don’t know you and you don’t know me, and that’s just fine. But your son needs to keep believing in Santa Claus. Please take this money, and don’t think any more about it.” The woman was amazed, and then delighted, and so was Mom. She was simply tickled to be in the right place to help.
My brothers and I have been comforted by the outpouring of affection, memories and kind words from so many who knew and loved our mother. We’ve heard from neighbors, fellow teachers and volunteers, hikers, members of her bridge and book groups, and so many longtime – or recent – friends. We greatly appreciate the sympathy and support.
Marilyn Prince was a remarkable wife, mother and friend. She grew to love our small communities and chose to remain in the area when she moved in 2006, to be near her friends and some family members. She will be greatly missed by all who knew and loved her.