Marilyn Jean (O'Connor) Whitelaw was born March 18, 1932 in Brooklyn, New York, the daughter of Murty and Alice O'Connor. She was married to William R. Whitelaw for 51 years until his death in 2006.
Marilyn attended Hunter College High School in Manhattan, graduated in 1954 from Hunter College, and completed training to teach high school mathematics. In June of 1954 she married Lt. (j.g.) Whitelaw, an officer in the US Navy submarine service. While William subsequently attended medical school and completed his residency, Marilyn pursued a career as a computer programmer and then sales representative for Bell Laboratories/AT&T.
When William established a general medical practice in Orleans, Massachusetts in 1964, Marilyn helped manage the practice until his retirement in 1996. She spent most of several decades raising their five children; encouraging and supporting their varied interests and enthusiasms. She was unstoppably active in learning new skills, adopting the motto anything anybody can do a lot of, I can do a little of, maybe. Avidly curious, she read voraciously on a variety of topics including science, politics, and economics, and traveled extensively, including destinations in Western and Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. A tireless volunteer, she made costumes for Nauset Regional High School drama productions and for the Academy of Performing Arts in Orleans, served in the Orleans Elementary School library, helped with school art classroom projects and held a weekly story time session for young children at the Brewster Book Store. She was long a member of the Orleans Elementary School Committee, chairing it during the renovations of the school that were completed in 1990, and in 2000, Marilyn received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Massachusetts Association of School Committees for her dedication to, and work on, the Orleans Elementary School Committee.
[no mention of Mrs. Claus, I see]
In recent decades, Marilyn was a very active volunteer with the Orleans Community Exchange (OCE), finding a surprising market for often eccentric bead creations in the OCE Consignment and Thrift Shop, and taking particular pride in the scholarship grants provided annually by the OCE to local high school students for further education.
She was devoted to several generations of West Highland and Cairn terriers.
She died of natural causes on November 2nd, 2018, aged 86, at a residential care facility in Bar Harbor, Maine. She was affected by memory loss attributed to Alzheimer's disease in the last years of her life.
Marilyn is survived by her brother Arthur, sister Patricia, and children William, Todd, Arlyn, Ian, and Regan.