MARION ELVA (TUTTLE) MARZOLF (July 5, 1930 – May 9, 2022)
Marion Elva (Tuttle) Marzolf, 91, of Ann Arbor, Michigan, professor emerita of Communication at The University of Michigan, died on May 9. Early in her academic career, she said that if pressed to put her life philosophy into words, “it would be to live every day to the fullest and make a worthy life for the time I'm here." She did just that.
Professor Marzolf grew up in Greenville, Michigan, moving to Muskegon during WWII so her father could work in a defense plant. He died when she was just 16, and she and her mother moved to Grand Rapids where she began her higher education at Grand Rapids Junior College. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Journalism at Michigan State University in 1952. Afterwards, she worked as a reporter, a copywriter, and a freelance writer for The Washington Post, the Biloxi Bulletin, and the South Kent News, and held an assistantship at National Geographic Magazine.
In the early 1960s she entered U-M, earning a master’s degree in Journalism and a doctorate in American Culture. While teaching at U-M for more than 30 years, Marzolf also held the roles of Associate Chair of the Department of Communication, Director of the Mass Communication M.A Program, Director of the Journalism M.A. Program, Director of the Scandinavian Studies Program, and Acting Director of the Program in American Culture.
Marzolf was well respected by her peers inside and outside of the U-M community. She received numerous awards during her exemplary career, including the William Taft Kappa Tau Alpha Outstanding Adviser Award in 1994 from the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC), the U-M Faculty Recognition Award in 1990, and the Outstanding Achievement Award from AEJMC at her retirement. She received awards from Kappa Tau Omega for her two books, Up From the Footnote: A History of Woman Journalists (Hastings House, 1977) — awarded second prize for best book in journalism history in 1978 — and Civilizing Voices: American Press Criticism 1880-1950 (Longman, 1991).
Beginning as a journalist, Marzolf's primary career focus moved to teaching and administration. Her concern with educating journalists at both undergraduate and graduate levels led her to develop new courses and land grants to incorporate contemporary issues in journalism into her classes. One of her special interests was the High School Minority Summer Workshop, which alternated between Wayne State University, U-M and MSU. This program supported high school students interested in pursuing journalism careers through an intense summer program.
Marzolf's work to educate journalists spread beyond U-M’s Ann Arbor campus into the national arena. She served on numerous committees in both AEJMC and the Association for Women in Communications (AWIC). Marzolf presented research papers at numerous conferences throughout the country dealing with women’s roles in journalism and incorporating minority viewpoints in major newspaper staffs. Combining her scholarly research of journalism and Scandinavian studies, she published The Danish Language Press in America (University of Minnesota Press, 1972).
Professor Marzolf donated her personal, research, teaching, and departmental administration records to U-M’s Bentley Historical Library. They are open to researchers and professors.
Marion Marzolf was a vibrant woman. After retirement from active faculty status in 1995, she continued as a writer and became a creator of fiber arts. She was a longtime member of the Ann Arbor FiberArts Guild, serving for a time as president. She also served as president of the Michigan League of Handweavers. Marzolf and co-author Marie A. Gile published Fascination with Fibers: Michigan’s Handweaving Heritage (The University of Michigan Press, 2006). She also published a novel about a Swedish immigrant’s life in America, Shuttle in Her Hand: A Swedish Immigrant Weaver in America (Swedish-American Historical Association, 2010). The publishers noted the book as their first to tell a story of a Swedish immigrant woman who had a satisfying experience assimilating to life in America.
The talented fiber artist immersed herself in weaving. She continually wrote articles about the craft that various weaving publications published. She volunteered with area youth programs to introduce young people to weaving. She organized a volunteer program at the U-M Health System Cancer Center that ran from 2001 until the Pandemic forced its closure. Through those decades on alternating weekdays, she and more than a half-dozen other weavers gave weaving demonstrations on three looms and even allowed visitors to work the looms themselves.
Marion Marzolf happily lived her life in tandem with her beloved husband Kingsbury Marzolf (May 27, 1929 – January 4, 2017). He was her college sweetheart. They married in 1953 while he was in the U.S. Air Force. His military assignments and subsequent training as an architect determined where they lived. They returned together to U-M to attend graduate school, staying when they each found a rewarding life as a professor. They loved their summers of traveling and teaching in Europe. As Marion fondly referred to him, “King” was a U-M professor of architecture, specializing in architectural history. For many years he taught at Michigan's International Study Program in Florence, Italy. Marion favored history and fiber arts venues in Scandinavian countries. Together the two professors maintained lifelong friendships with European friends they made.
Marion’s cremains will rest next to her husband in Ann Arbor’s Forest Hill Cemetery.
Marion’s nearest surviving relatives in her birth family are cousins from the Dale Krauss family, cousins Caryl Ann Collier and family, and several Johnson cousins and families. In Kingsbury’s birth family are sister-in-law Victoria Velsey and family. Commenting on having no offspring, Marion said “No children came to us.” As adoring and loving as family, many longtime friends, academic colleagues, and former students will miss Marion’s wonderful smile and warm presence in their lives.
A memorial gathering is set for 10 a.m. to Noon on May 20 at Nie Funeral Home’s chapel at 3767 W. Liberty Rd. in Ann Arbor.
Marion suggested that memorial donations may be made to the “Professor Kingsbury Marzolf and Professor Marion Marzolf Architecture Endowment Fund” through the U-M College of Art and Architecture and Engineering Library, 4172 Shapiro Library, 914 S. University Ave., Ann Arbor, MI 48104, for the purchase and maintenance of books and slides in the Fiberarts and Design collections.