Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Jim Marion, long-time Environmental Ed & Conference Director, has died

I'm very sad and sorry to be passing along the news that Jim Marion has died. Jim was Frost Valley second Environmental Education Director (after Bill Devlin) and Jim served for many year in that capacity, also at times serving as the Conference Director in addition. In sum, he directed pretty much all the non-summer programs at Frost Valley, hired and supported his staff with tremendous vivacity and kindness and good humor. Hundreds of former FV staffers worked for Jim and loved him. He was extremely hard working and always generous. He had a wicked sense of humor and he loved practical jokes.

Jim and Cheryl have lived in Grahamsville for many years. Cheryl worked at Frost Valley, too - first in the kitchen and then in the office. After Marie Kremer, long-time office manager, retired, Cheryl was our office manage. Jim and Cheryl's daughters, Christina and Renee, came of age at Frost Valley and both worked on the staff for a time. Cheryl's younger brother, Foster Portzline, also worked both summer camp and environmental education/conference.

Below is the obituary for Jim Marion posted today in the Times Herald-Record:

December 5, 1947 - February 22, 2015 -
Grahamsville, NY

James Ivan Marion, 67, of Grahamsville, NY passed away Sunday, February 22, 2015 in the comfort of his home with his family. James was born in Cortland, NY on December 5, 1947 to Ivan and Eleanor Marion. James is survived by his wife of 47 years, Cheryl Portzline Marion; his daughters: Christina Marion (Agustin Martinez) of Hilton Head SC, and Renee Viningre and husband Lejon Viningre of Napanoch, NY; and his grandson and buddy, Nathaniel Viningre whose life he most enjoyed being apart of. James is also survived by his father, Ivan Marion of Bradenton, FL and his sister, Connie Rejman of Venice Center, NY. He was predeceased by his mother, Eleanor Marion. He will be missed and has been a special part in the lives of many nieces, nephews, aunts, and in-laws. James was a graduate of Cornell University and received his Masters in Environmental Education at SUNY Plattsburgh. He worked for the Sullivan County Cooperative Extension as a 4-H agent, and the Frost Valley YMCA as the Director of Environmental Education. James worked for the New York State Department of Corrections as the Natural Resource Director where he designed and established composting and recycling programs as well as managing the farms for all New York State Correctional Facilities. He was an outgoing and personable friend to many. James took pride in his achievements and participation in various organizations. He served on the Sullivan County Cornell Cooperative Extension Board, Tri-Valley Central School Board, NYS Outdoor Education Association, and the John Burroughs Woodchuck Lodge Historical Site. In 1994 James was named the National Recycler of the Year. He will be remembered for his wealth of knowledge, admiration of nature, and his friendly personality as well as being a great dancer. Celebration of his life will be private. Donations may be made to the Islesford Congregational Church, PO Box 111, Islesford, ME 04646 or the charity of one's choice.

"If I were to name the three most precious resources of life, I should say books, friends, and nature.... - John Burroughs

Arrangements were under the direction of Colonial-Bryant Funeral Home and Cremation Service, for further information please call 845-434-7363 or visit www.colonialbryantfuneralhome.com.


Rick Cobb, prompted by the mention above of practical jokes, recalls as follows:

During one winter event at Frost Valley, Al and I came up with the idea to sign Jim up with as many military recruiters as possible.  We'd go to supermarkets, pick up magazines by the binder, and shake them to see what postcards fell out; we filled out navy, air force, army, coast guard, and other similar
organizations' postcards asking to send Jim Marion at Frost Valley information on their programs.  Yes, feel free to call!

After a few months, it was time for summer camp!  During orientation, Al and I were standing in the dining hall and just happened to overhear Cheryl Marion telling someone about how Jim was receiving all this information and phone calls from recruiters; we looked at the ceiling as we strained both to hear the story as well as suppress our laughter.  All of a sudden, we caught Cheryl's eye; her eyes narrowed a bit as she studied the two of us.  She then asked with a sense of suspicion in her voice: "Do you two happen to know anything about this?" 

"What?  Us?  Don't know what you're talking about!  Hey, Al, we better get to the pot sink; duty calls!" In a flash, we disappeared!