SAN ANTONIO — Marjorie Jeanette Arnade seemed to live many lives all in one.
She was the wife of the late Charles Arnade, a professor and Fulbright scholar who spent many of his 50 years in education at the University of South Florida. The couple had seven children, whom they raised in San Antonio but toted on trips around the world and through battles over civil rights and poverty. Mrs. Arnade was herself a devoted student and tireless worker, born on a Michigan dairy farm the day after the stock market crash of 1929.
Diagnosed with pancreatic cancer about three months ago, Mrs. Arnade died Sunday (Nov. 4, 2012) in North Carolina. She was 83.
Employed as a reference librarian at the University of South Florida and Saint Leo University, Mrs. Arnade was acknowledged as an endless source of information about a variety of topics.
"If you ask her for information about kumquats, she would look it up and give you everything in full detail," said Margie Neuhofer, who worked with her for 10 years at the Saint Leo University Library. "She also knew everything about computers, and was very patient with those of us who had grown up with typewriters. She would say, 'Don't worry, you'll get it.' She was very down to earth"
While tending her own flock of kids, Mrs. Arnade also took in countless others in temporary need of a good and loving home.
"When Castro took over Cuba she took in two children who had escaped without their parents," her son, Chris Arnade, wrote on his website. "She hosted, and temporarily mothered, a string of foreign exchange students, visitors, and friends."
Chris Arnade also wrote about trips around the world that his mother turned into learning experiences for her children.
"On a long trip to Eastern Europe in the '70s, my parents, my brother, and myself were dragged off a train in small border town of Czechoslovakia and put in jail for a day," he wrote. "No reason was given. While my father was yelling and fuming my mom kept my brother and me happy, playing endless games of cards, while finally winning the guards over with her politeness and charm. They ended up putting us back on the train with bags of candy as gifts."
Back home, the Arnades were devoted to making positive change in the San Antonio area. Devoted to the fight to end segregation, they co-founded a local chapter of the NAACP in 1968 and held meetings at their home.
Small deeds mattered, too.
"She was involved heavily in events like the Coastal Cleanup, but it went beyond that," said Barbara Sessa, city clerk of San Antonio. "She would carry bags with her on her walks around town and pick up litter."
Sessa also remembers Mrs. Arnade's sweet nature: "She had … a smile for everyone."
The Arnades lived in San Antonio until 2007, when Charles' chronic health problems prompted them to move to Virginia to be closer to family. Charles Arnade died in 2008.
Mrs. Arnade died at a hospice center in Wilmington, N.C. Arrangements in that area are being coordinated by Coble Ward-Smith funeral home; a local memorial service may be planned at a later date.
"We had a going away party for the Arnades before they left in 2007 and after their departure, we felt a big loss," said Sessa. "Now that Marjorie is gone, we'll miss her in another way. We all loved her."