Marjorie Ellen Nelson Perisho

Nelson—Marjorie Ellen Nelson Perisho, 83, on December 29, 2022, of a stroke, in State College, Pa. Marjorie was born on June 24, 1939, to Earl S. Nelson and Elda Toner Nelson in Kokomo, Ind. She was raised in the Courtland Avenue Friends Church. She graduated from Kokomo High School, received a bachelor’s degree from Earlham College in Richmond, Ind., and, in 1965, a doctor of medicine degree from Indiana University. She completed her internship and residency at Pennsylvania Hospital in central Philadelphia, Pa. Her first two months of residency were spent on the hospital ship, Hope, serving medical needs of people in Guinea and Sierra Leone. Her residency also included rotations at Philadelphia General Hospital and the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta, Ga.

During her residency Marjorie was deeply involved with Young Friends of North America (YFNA). Twice she attended international meetings of the Prague-based Christian Peace Conference as YFNA’s representative. In September 1967, Marjorie went to Vietnam with American Friends Service Committee to provide medical care to civilians suffering from the ravages of the Vietnam War. Three months into her medical work, she was taken captive by soldiers of the National Liberation Front. By that time Marjorie was able to converse in Vietnamese and was treated respectfully during her two-month captivity, as detailed in her 2019 book, To Live in Peace in the Midst of the Vietnam War. Following her release, Marjorie returned to Quang Ngai for an additional year to continue serving those suffering from the war.

Marjorie met Robert Perisho, a graduate student at Yale who was active in YFNA. They were married in 1971 after she returned from Vietnam. They lived in New Haven, Conn., while Robert completed his doctorate in physics and Marjorie completed her master’s degree in public health at Yale. Their son, Christopher Robert Perisho, was born in 1972. The family moved to Pittsburgh, Pa., where Robert did postdoctoral work and Marjorie worked with Planned Parenthood. In 1975, they moved to Salt Lake City, Utah, where Robert was to take an academic position. Shortly after their arrival, Robert died of encephalitis.

Marjorie served as medical director of Planned Parenthood in Utah until 1977, when she and Christopher moved to Athens, Ohio. There Marjorie served as Planned Parenthood’s medical director and as a faculty member of the newly founded Ohio University College of Osteopathic Medicine. She was a founding member of Athens (Ohio) Meeting.

For several years following retirement, Marjorie traveled to Quang Ngai province in Vietnam, where she volunteered with Madison Quakers Inc., a nonprofit dedicated to development projects in Quang Ngai.

Over the years, Marjorie enjoyed tai chi and archery and was a member of the Society for Creative Anachronism. She wrote the Star Trek novel Pawns and Symbols using the pseudonym Marjliss Larson.

In 2011, she moved to State College, Pa., to live in the Quaker retirement community Foxdale. She was a valued member of both the Foxdale community and State College Meeting. She served two terms as a Quaker representative on the Foxdale Board of Trustees and was active in the meeting’s Peace and Social Order Committee, with a special concern for Friends Committee on National Legislation. She often spoke to First-day school classes about her service in Vietnam and what motivated her to serve.

In 2022, Marjorie was honored by her home county of Howard, Ind., when she was selected to join the Howard County Hall of Legends.

Marjorie was predeceased by her parents; her husband, Robert Perisho; and a brother, Keith Nelson. She is survived by her son, Christopher Clarence Robert Perisho; a brother, Beryl Nelson; and a nephew.

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