Marian Nicholson Smythe- Baxter

Marian Nicholson Smythe- Baxter

MADISON- Marian Nicholson Smythe- Baxter (nee Dahlen) was born on August 26th 1920 and passed away peacefully in her sleep on February 14th 2014 in her home at Harmony Commons, Racine, WI.

Marian was born and raised in Decorah, Iowa to Otto and Emelia Dahlen (nee Krogsund). She grew up on the family farm with her brother Ove, and sister Gladys. She rode her horse to the neighboring school.

At the age of 15 through 18, Marian boarded at a home in Decorah where she went to high school. The day after she turned 18 she became a teacher in a one-room school for ages Kindergarten- 8th grade. The school-house was without heat or water, and she would gather water from a nearby pump and stoke the fire in the winters to keep the school room warm.

She married Rodney Nicholson in 1942, and had her daughter Sandra Lea on March 1st 1946. Rodney was a career Army Air Corp Test Pilot and they were stationed throughout the United States during the early years of their marriage. Marian enjoyed the companionship she found with other Army families.

In 1947 Rodney passed away in a plane crash at Kitakshu, Japan while steering the plane away from hitting a school after it developed engine trouble. Marian and Sandy were in Japan at the time of Rodney’s death; Sandy was only 18 months old.

Marian and Sandy went to live with Rodney’s parents in Shullsburg, WI. There she went back to school at UW- Platteville, to earn her Bachelor’s degree in Education.

Marian married Jack Smythe in 1952 and they moved to Wausau, WI. There she was a 5th grade teacher at an elementary school in Schofield, WI until 1964. While in Wausau, Marian was involved as president of the Newcomers Club, the First Presbyterian Church and was active in leading Sandy’s Girl Scout troop. Wausau was a wonderful home for the family, with many friends, bridge clubs and a job she loved.

In 1964 Jack and Marian moved to Madison, WI. From 1964 until her retirement in 1982 she was a 5th grade teacher at Orchard Ridge Elementary (now Akira Toki School) in Madison. She was well known for being an outstanding teacher and being able to teach all students’ ability levels. She directed the play Tom Sawyer every year with her 5th graders and was well loved.

Marian was very active in the Madison community. She was a member of the Madison Women’s Club and a long time volunteer at the Governor’s Mansion and the University Hospital Gift Shop. She was an active bridge player. Their friends were many. Jack died at the age of 68.

At the age of 72, Marian married Frank Baxter in 1992. They traveled throughout the United States and parts of Europe. They were happily married for 18 years prior to Frank’s passing in 2010.

She is survived by her daughter, Sandra Lea DeWalt (Bill), grandson Jack DeWalt (Larina), great grand-children Cole, Keya and Greyson, granddaughter Terri DeWalt, (Matt Drymalski), great grandchildren Alec and Luke, and nephew Fran Odden (Miriam).

Four sister-in-laws from the Nicholson and Smythe families survive Marian. On the Baxter side of the family she is survived by Monsignor Tom Baxter, Mary Meier (George), Pat Baxter (Lee), Rick Baxter and Bill Baxter (Therese) as well as grandchildren and great-grand children.

Marian is also survived by countless other loving family members and friends. She was good to everyone and always saw the glass as half full. She was a true friend to many.

A Funeral service will be held at COVENANT PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, 326 S. Segoe Road, Madison, on Tuesday, February 18, 2014, at 2:30 p.m. Burial will follow at Forest Hill Cemetery. A visitation will be held at church on Tuesday from 1:30 p.m. until time of service.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be sent in her name to Covenant Presbyterian Church, The Smiles Program, The Caledonia Conservancy Land Trust or to a favorite charity that benefits school-age children.

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