Marian Darnell Fuson

Fuson—Marian Darnell Fuson, 103, on February 7, 2024, at Kendal at Longwood, a life plan community founded by Quakers in Kennett Square, Pa. She was born on May 19, 1920, to Howard C. and Helen Wills Darnell, both members of the Religious Society of Friends, in Moorestown, N.J. When Marian was six years old, the family moved to Montreal, Canada, remaining there for four years. Then returned to Moorestown when Marian’s father was hired to be director of the Copyright Department of RCA Victor in Camden, N.J. Marian attended Moorestown Friends School until ninth grade, then moved to Westtown School, a Quaker boarding school in West Chester, Pa.

Marian graduated from Oberlin College in Ohio in 1942. While at Oberlin she became even more deeply committed to pacifism as World War II started. She joined the Fellowship of Reconciliation when Bayard Rustin came to the Oberlin campus the day war was declared. A summer workcamp near Glen Mills, Pa., in 1941 gave Marian close contact with Sleighton Farm School, where, after graduating from college, she worked with at-risk children. Following a summer school in 1943 at Pendle Hill Quaker study center in Wallingford, Pa., she served for two years as executive of the Young Friends Movement of the two Philadelphia Yearly Meetings, working to bring the two together.

On June 23, 1945, Marian married Nelson Fuson while he was serving in the Civilian Public Service. Marian and Nelson lived in Ann Arbor, Mich., then Baltimore, Md., where their son Allan was born in April 1949. Within six months, they moved to Nashville, Tenn., where Nelson taught physics at Fisk University. Their son Dan was born in December 1951. For the next 49 years, they lived in a faculty residence on the Fisk campus. In 1956, Nelson took a sabbatical leave from Fisk, and the family moved to Bordeaux, France, where Nelson taught physics at the University of Bordeaux. They returned to Fisk in 1959.

Marian and Nelson directed five international student seminars for American Friends Service Committee, four in the United States and one in France. They helped develop Nashville Meeting as well as Southern Appalachian Yearly Meeting and Association.

During the 1960s Nashville was a center of the Civil Rights Movement. Marian and Nelson supported students involved in sit-ins and Freedom Rides. The late congressman and civil rights activist John Lewis was a regular babysitter for Allan and Dan.

Marian and Nelson led Friends Couple Enrichment workshops for more than 20 years at Friends General Conference Gatherings and other places. Marian worked for ten years presenting the Green Circle Program in the public schools of Davidson County. Following Nelson’s retirement from Fisk University, they served for two years as resident couple for Honolulu (Hawaii) Meeting.

Marian served as clerk of the Executive Committee of Friends Committee on National Legislation in the late ’60s and ’70s. Later she served on the General Board of Pendle Hill for several years. In 1998 Marian and Nelson moved to Kendal at Longwood, where Marian volunteered both at Kendal and in the “After the Bell” program of Kennett Middle School.

Marian loved people and loved living in community. Participation was important to her. At one point, when asked if she had any words of wisdom, she said, “You’ve got to do things. That’s one thing being a Friend demands. There is no point in talking. You have to live it.”

Marian was predeceased by her husband, Nelson Fuson, in 2006; and a son, Dan Fuson, in 2007. She is survived by one child, Allan Fuson (Susan); one daughter-in-law, Nancy Eisenbrandt; and three grandchildren.

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