Marie was born in Edmonton, Alberta on March 12, 1923 to John and Emma Thornton.
Her mother’s family was early pioneers in Northern Alberta and homesteaded north of Edmonton in the early 1900’s.
In 1927 her family moved to Holland, where she attended school until they moved back to the family farm in 1932, eventually settling in Toronto in 1933.
She knew little English, but once she learned how to read and write she finished at the head of her class throughout high school.
It was while working and attending art classes in Toronto that she met Jim, who was to be her husband of 61 years.
Jim and Marie moved to Spokane in 1951 where they set about to raise a family, and Marie in particular became involved in the local community.
Gardening was her main passion, although she had several.
She was a founding member of the Hamblen Park Garden Club in 1956, and also became very active in The Associated Garden Clubs of Spokane as well as the Spokane Lilac Society, serving as a board member numerous times and was named Associated’s Woman of the Year in 2002.
She was involved with numerous projects related to improving the City of Spokane, and spearheaded the “Welcome to Spokane” monument and garden at 4th and Division.
At age 49 Marie decided to go to college.
After graduating from EWU with a degree in French she was offered the position of Director of the Modern Language Lab, where she worked until she retired.
While there she continued to take classes in Japanese.
During her years at EWU she befriended numerous students from around the world, many of whom she kept in contact with, visited overseas, and became her adopted family.
In 1977 Marie turned her love for needlework into a business.
She founded Nimble Needle, and was very proud of her success in designing and selling cross-stitch kits to craft shops across the US and Canada.
Marie loved to travel.
She and Jim visited Russia and China in 1984, and Marie also traveled extensively in Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia and South America.
She was very proud to have climbed Mt.
Fuji in her 60’s.
Marie was a wonderful mother to her two sons, Bill and John, always creating something spectacular for birthdays and special events.
The family spent vacations at “the farm” in Alberta, as well as hiking and camping in most of the National Parks in the Western US and Canada.
One summer adventure was spent driving to Mexico City - and back!
She was an active participant in Bloomsday well into her 80’s, completing the race in her wheelchair one year.
Marie was a true champion of the earth.
Her world was one where there were no strangers.
She touched the lives of so many over the years, and offered a smile and friendly conversation to all.
She supported the World Wildlife Federation, the Nature Conservancy, the Sierra Club, the John Muir Society, the National Geographic Society, the Audubon Society, The Friends of Manito, KSPS and numerous other organizations.
She loved history, spoke five languages, and was accomplished at knitting, crocheting, weaving, painting, beading and cross-stitch.
Marie was admired for her kindness, her intelligence, her creativity, her strength and her love of humanity, and will be remembered as a role model for all.
She was preceded in death by her husband W. James Mann and her grandson Oliver.
She is survived by sons Bill (Sally) of Spokane, John (Qianqian) of Seattle, grandsons Ryan (Natasha) and Kyle of Spokane, her sister Betty of Naples, FL, and numerous cousins, aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews in Canada, Holland, Seattle and Florida, not to mention her “adopted” sons and daughters around the world.
We will all miss her so.
A celebration of her life will be held in the spring.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Associated Garden Clubs of Spokane, 6107 S Madelia, Spokane, WA 99223.
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