YORK – Marion Fuller Brown, 94, a longtime community activist, civic leader, former Maine state representative and a champion of Maine’s quality of place, died peacefully Friday, June 3, 2011, surrounded by her family and close friends, at her beloved Ram’s Head Farm, York. Marion was born May 14, 1917, in Kansas City, Mo., one of four children of Charles Theirs Thompson and Marion Moreau Thompson.
She graduated from Sunset Country Day School in 1934, Bradford Junior College in 1936 and received a Bachelor of Arts from Smith College in 1938. In 1939 she married Henry M. Fuller, Esq., of Milton, Mass. They moved to York that summer in time for Henry to join the law firm of Judge Gene Sewell. In 1944 they acquired Rams Head Farm, where they raised their four children for the next 20 years. Tragically in July 1962, Henry died at age 47, in a haying accident on the farm, leaving Marion a widow at age 45 with four children to raise. Five years later in July 1967, Marion married Brooks Brown Jr. of Augusta. Brooks moved to York where he and Marion lived until his death in 1987. During the time Marion was at home raising her children, she became involved in local and state civic affairs, beginning with her appointment in 1960 by Gov. John Reed to the Maine Milk Commission. In 1964 she was elected chair of the commission for the next two years, the first woman to do so. In 1966 Marion was elected as the first woman from the town of York to Maine State Legislature, serving three terms until 1972. Marion was principal sponsor of legislation that banned billboards in the state of Maine, the second of only four states to implement such a ban – a ban that was recently threatened to be overturned by the current Maine legislature. She was the prime sponsor of Maine’s Returnable Bottle Law, one of the first such bills in the nation, and of Maine’s Clean Water and Clean Air. During this same period, Marion was National Republican Committee Woman from the state of Maine and served as a delegate to three National Republican Presidential Conventions between 1964 and 1972. In 1971 President Richard Nixon appointed Marion to the National Highway Beautification Commission, on which she served until 1975. In 1977 she became a founder of the Coalition for Scenic Beauty, the only national organization dedicated to advocating the preservation of scenic views and the reduction of visual pollution of our rural and urban landscapes, now known as Scenic America, based in Washington, D.C. Marion was a member of the Delegation of Friendship among Women which traveled to China in 1975 as a guest of the Chinese government on a goodwill tour. In 1977 Maine Gov. Longley appointed her to the Maine Travel Advisory Council. Successive Maine governors continued her appointment until 1997. Marion also served for nearly a decade on Land for Maine’s Future Board as a charter member and served on the Keep Maine Scenic Committee until 2008. From 1968 to 1983, Marion was a member of York Planning Board. In 1985 she became a founder and director of York Land Trust and continued her interest and involvement as a director emeritus until her death. In the 1990s Marion exemplified her commitment to land conservation by placing conservation easements on the open fields surrounding Rams Head Farm. In 2000, in conjunction with her children and grandchildren, an unspoiled half-mile of shoreline on the York River in the Mount Agamenticus Sea corridor, comprising 54 acres of fields and woodland belonging to Ram’s Head Farm, was preserved through a conservation easement held by York Land Trust. Marion was a member of Piscataqua Garden Club from 1948 until her death, serving in various leadership capacities, including president, between 1948 and the present. Through her work as a member of Piscataqua Garden Club, she became a distinguished member of Garden Club of America, serving as a regional director and vice president. During this time she was instrumental in creating Garden Club of America National Affairs and Legislative Committee to advocate nationally on behalf of conservation and environmental issues. In addition to her conservation efforts, Marion was involved from 1970 to 2008 with Strawberry Banke Museum, Portsmouth, N.H., serving as a member of the board of trustees and overseer. During those years, she was also involved with Old York Historical Society, where she served as trustee. She was the first woman to serve as a trustee of York Hospital. She also was a longtime trustee of York Country Club and Pine Tree Society of Bath, and served as a deacon of First Parish Church, York. In recognition of her outstanding leadership, Marion was the recipient of many awards at the state, local and national level. In 1983 she was the first recipient of Sunset Hill School’s Outstanding Alumna Award for civic activities and accomplishments. She received the Deborah Morton Women of Achievement Award in 1975 from Westbrook College. Down East Magazine presented her its Environmental Award for 1983. She was given a 1992 Proclamation of Appreciation for Environmental Leadership by the selectmen of the town of York. In 1995 Garden Club of America presented her with its Crocker Silver Bowl for conservation. She received the Scenic America Lifetime Achievement Award for 2000, and in 2001 she was given the Maine Nature Conservancy Award. Gov. Angus King, citing her leadership, proclaimed May 14, 1997, her 80th birthday, as Marion Fuller Brown Day in the state of Maine. King cited her dedication and vision resulting in the elimination of billboards, the acquisition of 65,000 acres of accessible scenic land under the auspices of Land for Maine Future Board and the beautification of Maine highways. Marion enjoyed being on or near the ocean whether sailing as a child on Barnegat Bay, cruising in Penobscot Bay, having a meal on the deck of York Harbor Reading Room or enjoying the sound of the waves of Long Sands Beach. She was ever curious and passionate about world events, politics and was proud of her extended family.
Marion is survived by her four children, Alexandra C. Anderson-Spivy of New York City, Martha Fuller Clark of Portsmouth, N.H., Henry Weld Fuller of Baddeck, Nova Scotia, and Emily Fuller Hawkins of Deer Isle; three stepchildren, Susan B. Greenleaf of Bar Harbor, David B. Brown of Augusta and Connie Brown of San Diego; eight grandchildren, 10 stepgrandchildren and eight great-grandchildren. She is also survived by her sister, Anne T. Gartner and her husband, Murray T. Gartner, of Scarborough; seven nieces and nephews. Judith Rivinus Fuller, her only daughter-in-law, predeceased her April 19, 2008. Her brothers, Charles Moreau Thompson and Robert Smock Thompson also predeceased her. Special thanks are extended to Joanne Cross, Madeline Gavin, Linda Westfall, Reenie Johnson, Dede Hart and Henry Blaisdell for their enduring commitment to Marion’s care and well-being throughout an extended number of years. To all she has been a steadfast beacon of integrity, loyalty and determination, dedicated to the dynamics of the two party political processes and the principle of giving to those organizations she championed. She will be sorely missed by all.
A celebration of life will be held 2 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 14, at First Parish Church, York. Memorial gifts may be made to York Land Trust, P.O. Box 1241, York Harbor, ME 03911,
www.yorklandtrust.org, and to Scenic America, 1250 I St. NW, Suite 750, Washington, DC 20005, www.scenic.org.