|Birth: ||Nov. 21, 1910|
|Death: ||Mar. 13, 2010|
San Luis Obispo
San Luis Obispo County
Marjorie Sawyer was 99 years old when she died. This memorial tribute will be rather lengthy as befitting her long and interesting life. Also, Marjorie was the genealogist in the family, and her story wouldn't be complete without including some related details about Marjorie's brothers and sisters, and her mother's people, the Scarboroughs. Marjorie would have wanted it that way. She was fiercely devoted to the concept of a large and close-knit family, though it eluded her more often than not.
Marjorie Sawyer was born on November 21, 1910 in Portsmouth Virginia. She was the second child and first daughter born to Ella Stanley Scarborough of Portsmouth, and Alexander Hamilton Sawyer of South Mills, North Carolina. Her older brother was Everett Stanley Sawyer, born July 19, 1909 also in Portsmouth. Alex was a traveling insurance salesman and Marjorie might have inherited her restless nature from him. She had dark red hair and hazel eyes that never seemed to close. Marjorie was not one to cry, so Ella was constantly checking up on her daughter whenever it was too quiet in the house. She would find Marjorie lying there wide awake, perfectly content, but always aware of the world around her.
Marjorie described herself a tomboyish with a good figure. She was indeed, mentally, and often as physically tough, as any man foolish enough to pick on her would discover. She gave back as good as she got, verbally or otherwise, and she had the knuckles to prove it. She was a good swimmer, and liked to hunt and fish. The Sawyer's didn't have much, but Marjorie valued good manners and a polished appearance - "smart looking" - as she called it. Her father was a snappy dresser and Ella was drop dead gorgeous; she and Alex must have cut quite a picture! We wish they had left us some.
Ella had five more children after Marjorie. Edith Dallas Sawyer was born on May 24, 1914 in Norfolk. It is believed that the next child was a boy who died shortly after birth. Marjorie described how he was placed into a little box while the family looked on and grieved. Infant Sawyer is recorded as being buried August 2, 1915 in the family plot at Riverside Cemetery in Norfolk. Arline Joy Sawyer was born after him on December 12, 1917 also in Norfolk. Marjorie loved babies and children and helped Ella raise them all. She always said, "Blessed is the one with a quiver full."
The Spanish Flu pandemic hit the family hard, but all survived. Marjorie painted some vivid pictures with everyone lying at death's door, too sick and weak to do anything, but fetch a little sip of water for the others. Rosemary Sawyer was born July 25, 1921. Sadly, a few months later, Arline succumbed to diphtheria and died on November 9, 1921, just short of her fourth birthday. Marjorie affectionately called her Barney Google, because she had big googly eyes. Katherine was born on September 16, 1923. None of her vital records have been found, and her final resting place remains unknown.
Marjorie came of age in the Roaring Twenties. She didn't think she was pretty, but she never lacked for suitors and said "All my husbands were good looking men!" Marjorie married Fillmore "Sonny" Henderson Jr. on December 28, 1927 in South Mills, North Carolina. He was a shipping clerk, a soft spoken and quiet man, who like to tinker with cars and his Indian motorcycle. They had one daughter, Kay, who was born in 1934 in Norfolk. Kay was a beautiful child, and Marjorie saw to it that she received training in song, dance and drama. A wealthy family friend encouraged Marjorie to take Kay to Hollywood and paid for their trip. Kay landed a contract but Sonny wouldn't relocate to California. This all happened during the Great Depression, and Sonny was the sole support for his widowed mother. Sonny and Marjorie divorced, but they remained good friends. Sonny was always "her angel".
Marjorie had similar reasons for not returning to Virgina, as her own mother and family had relocated to San Diego between 1928-1930. We haven't run across anyone who knows why half the family just up and left. Ella's brother Alvin "Pete" Scarborough made the journey first, and it appears that Everett went along and was living with his family. In November 1930, Ella, Edith, Katherine and Rosemary headed out west as well. Also along for the ride was Ella's brother Raymond, and their 60-year old widowed mother, Rosa Kate Ashe Scarborough. Edith kept a travel diary and recorded the days events and the tourist camps they stayed at. The family made it out just fine, but Katherine died in August 1932, probably somewhere in San Diego County. Her final resting place is unknown.
On June 28, 1941, Marjorie married Auldace "Tex" Tatum, an electrician who worked for the movie studios. They had an active social life that included dancing, card games and pleasure drives - this was in the days before the freeways came. They both liked to hunt and fish. Tex would get autographs for Kay, but she was matter of fact about Tex and a Hollywood career in general. Kay landed a couple of bit parts in the Our Gang series and a few other things, but she could plainly see that she didn't have a natural born talent for performing. Eventually the movie ambitions ended, as did the marriage, about 1946.
On November 3, 1945, Edith died from a brain tumor. Marjorie always linked it to the time Edith fell and hit her head in an amusement park accident. Edith was married to Orville Miller when she died, and they had two children, Rosie, and a baby boy who was born July 4, 1945. It is unclear whether Edith was in a coma when he was born. She was ill for a year and Rosie lived with Marjorie for a while. After Edith died, Orville adopted out the baby boy. Marjorie searched for her nephew all her life, but she never found him.
Marjorie was never able to complete her education, but she worked hard to secure one for her daughter. She completed nurses training at Good Samaritan Hospital in Los Angeles, and was then employed as personal nurse for Orpha Jean Shontz, the first woman to sit on the bench and administer justice in California. Marjorie married her third and final husband Dr. Gimour Walter Gray DDS on May 26, 1951 in Hemet, Los Angeles County. Gil was an established professional man, easy going, and also fond of social activities. Marjorie assisted him at his office with patients and the books. Gil liked to catch and eat fresh fish, so that arrangement worked very well. Marjorie did not remarry after he died. She said she "bagged her limit".
Marjorie was "born again" and enjoyed listening to Billy Graham. She would sing those old-tyme hymns which she later learned how to play on an electric organ. She wore out two Bibles, covering them with notations from cover to cover - all except the pages with the family tree - these are totally blank! Perhaps Marjorie sought renewed comfort in the Lord when her Kay married Elwood Bredell Jr. in 1955 and relocated far away with the first grandchild. Kay had met Woody at UCLA while studying to be a veterinarian. She became a mother instead.
Ella married Johan Andresen in 1956. Johnny, as she called him, was from Moss, Norway. They had a nice California style house on a hill with a great view. Ella was known to have a green thumb and enjoyed gardening and a more comfortable life for a change. Her children had all married and there were and are many grandchildren in San Diego with fond memories of Ella. Everett and wife Dorothy had eight alone. When Johnny died in 1961, Ella remained in the house and Rosemary looked after her. Marjorie always referred to Rosemary as the "pretty one". She was born with just one kidney and she died on November 25, 1965 from complications with that. Everett died about 5 months later on April 8, 1966. The sixties - not a good time.
About this time Ella started to decline and Marjorie found herself commuting a lot between Los Angeles and San Diego. She eventually had to put her mother in a nursing home, first in San Diego, and then closer in Los Angeles. Nursing homes are depressing places, but none of them could dampen grandmother's vitality, and devotion to her own mother. After visiting with Ella, she would go from room to room, greeting her other acquaintances, and holding the hands of lonely people sitting in the halls and lobbies. Ella died on October 17, 1977.
Marjorie's genealogy interest really took off in the 1970s. It is not exactly known when Marjorie discovered that she had two half-brothers, but her search for them was relentless. She wanted to know them, and wanted to know more about her father. She eventually made contact, and got both of those dreams fulfilled. It just so happened that other Carolina cousins were working on the Sawyer history, and they had lots of questions for Marjorie. She hired a professional genealogist to help her track the Sawyer, Scarborough, and Ashe families.
Marjorie lived in California long enough to see some big changes. Her charming Granada Hills home, once surrounded by orange orchards, became a place where drug shootings occurred. After Gil died, she was finally convinced to relocate after one such incident ended up with a bloody victim on her porch. Elwood and Kay had returned to California, so Marjorie moved to Los Osos. She had many guests, but she wasn't as happy there. Marjorie kept outliving more and more friends and family, and then Elwood and Kay moved away again, to Arizona. Marjorie had no desire for that dried out scenery, or the heat, so she lived alone and worked on the family history until her health declined. Marjorie didn't quite make it to 100, but she was mentally sharp and in her own home until the day she died. Not many can say that.
With love, from your family.
Filmore B Henderson (1906 - 1965)
Asa Auldace Tatum (1908 - 1951)
Gilmour Walter Gray (1898 - 1985)
Greenwood Memorial Park
San Diego County
Plot: Section Oakdale - Lot 190 - Space 4
Maintained by: Cheryl Bredell
Originally Created by: Inge and Patrick Campbel...
Record added: Aug 31, 2010
Find A Grave Memorial# 57955368