Marilyn Joyce Mariner Florian was born in the tiny town of Portal, North Dakota, on July 7, 1928, to parents George and Gladys Mariner, and big brother George. The family was soon complete with the birth of Tom, two years later. After sending 15 year old George across the country by train to Poulsbo, Washington to scout out the job and housing markets, Gladys, moved the family west where the family settled into the Poulsbo “projects” which were new, and they were thrilled with the indoor plumbing and refrigerator. During WWII Gladys found work in the Bremerton Shipyards, and later resumed her career as a kindergarten teacher in the Poulsbo area.
Marilyn and her brothers all graduated from North Kitsap High School. A week after her high school graduation, Marilyn married her husband, Ken (Kenny) Florian, on June 7, 1947. The happy couple remained in Poulsbo, raising their family which eventually grew to five daughters and one son. Marilyn attended Grace Lutheran Church faithfully and was in the choir.
At 18, Ken became the youngest tugboat captain on Puget Sound, and enjoyed his career on the water immensely. His career eventually led Marilyn and the children out of Poulsbo on a 10 year adventure to Ketchikan, Alaska where he worked for the Alaska State Ferry system from 1964 to 1974.
A short time prior to the Alaska move, a radical change in both Marilyn and Ken’s lives came when Ken gave his heart and life to the Lord, something Marilyn and others had been praying about for years. Faith Fellowship, a church family that helped to anchor and grow their faith was to be a huge part of their lives for the five decades that followed. In Ketchikan, Marilyn and Ken were soon heavily involved in various church and community ministries, as well, attending First Lutheran Church.
Marilyn’s incredible gift of hospitality showed up early in her life, most often as a young mother, as she gathered the neighborhood women to her house for coffee and her sour cream rolls. These were probably her sanity breaks, too. A bit later on, as many of her six children’s friends came to hang out, enjoy her fabulous cooking, conversations, sharp humor, and her love for God, there were times her children wondered if their friends were drawn to the family house because of them, or their Mom!
Marilyn’s other talents included painting, crocheting, (blankets for all the kids, grandkids, and many newborn babies), leading women’s Bible studies, and being involved in the Women’s Aglow organization for many decades. Sewing was also a passion and joy, which Marilyn put to good use as she made five new matching Easter dresses for many years, and a multitude of other dresses for her daughters as they were growing up.
Due to Ken’s jobs that involved many days away from the family, Marilyn honed the skill of taking over the helm when he was gone, and did a marvelous job of it all. We remember Mom’s fun side, where if perchance there was a sunny hour or two during a Ketchikan summer, off we’d go to Settler’s Cove with a cooler full of breakfast and lunch staples. Pancakes on a wood fire and hot chocolate, and a cove and stream to explore, and life was good. She was always up for a new and happy adventure.
After their Ketchikan days, Marilyn and Ken moved back to Poulsbo in 1974, where Ken began to study for the Puget Sound Pilot’s exam. They built a large house in Poulsbo up above 3rd Avenue, (which friend Dick McRae worked on), where Marilyn painted a fabulous ocean scene in the pool room. Quite a few baptisms even took place in that pool. It was around this time that Marilyn won the North Kitsap “Mother of the Year” award and rode in a parade.
As all the children left their home, Marilyn and Ken enjoyed traveling to many places: Australia, New Zealand, Norway, Tahiti, and many trips around Washington in their small RV. Marilyn often sewed for weeks making new clothes for whatever climate she was to encounter.
Marilyn passed away at Liberty Shores, in Poulsbo, Washington, on April 21, 2017, and is rejoicing in heaven. She was preceded in death brothers George Mariner (Jeri), Tom Mariner (Colleen), husband Ken Florian, nephew David Florian, and one grandson, Christopher Florian.
Surviving members of Marilyn’s family include: Kathleen Verbarense (Mike), Colleen Brown (John), Shari Shelton (Alan), Mike Florian (Debra), Konni Ortiz (Steve), Karen MacMillan (Daniel). Marilyn and Ken were incredibly blessed with and loved deeply, 18 grandchildren, 18 great grandchildren, and one (four month old) great grandchild.
Things we will treasure in our hearts about our Mom, and try to emulate with our lives: Put God first in our lives, and our families. Always have a sense of humor, and being crazy silly is just fine at times. Help the youth around you and guide them as you can, always finding time for them, for you were put here for a purpose. Get together often as a family, and make room for friends at the family table and celebrations. It’s embarrassing but sometimes inevitable to cry when your heart is touched and you are speaking to a group of people, but at least your heart is tender. (And yes, some of us have inherited this trait)! Bake a birthday cake for Jesus at Christmas and remember who this day is about. Be creative with your endeavors, and use your talents and passions.
The family would like to extend deep thanks for the kind and compassionate care our Mom received the past 10 years at Liberty Shores in Poulsbo. She loved you all.
A memorial service to celebrate Marilyn’s life will be held on June 10, 2017, at Peninsula Bible Fellowship at 2 pm in Bremerton.
Further information and photos of Marilyn’s life can be found at the Stone Chapel web site. Please do add comments or a memory here for the family, and thank you to all who were involved in our Mother’s life.