Marlyn James, my coauthor, collaborator, and dear friend passed away peacefully on June 25, 2016 from complications following brain surgery.
Marlyn was the chair of the Early Childhood Education Department at Flathead Community College in Kalispell, Montana. She was beloved by her students, inspiring them to continue working with children implementing the best practices that she made so clear and understandable in her teachings, presentations, and writings.
She was nationally recognized as an author, presenter, and consultant working to make a difference in the lives of young children and the field of early childhood education. She and I presented at many NAEYC National Conferences and Professional Development Institutes as well as at various state conferences. We wrote three books together (all published by Redleaf Press):
- two editions of Focused Observations: How to Observe Young Children for Assessment and Curriculum Planning
- and Early Learning Standards and Staff Development: Best Practices in the Face of Change.
In addition, we produced a DVD and CD-ROM of video clips of young children in action so that early childhood professionals could practice observation and documentation and further refine their skills.
Marlyn was an outdoors woman. She loved to hike. She loved flowers. She loved to pick the greens, herbs and fresh vegetables from her gardens. She loved animals—her cats and dogs were family members, too.
Marlyn was incredibly gifted as a friend. Her wicked eyes, ready laugh, her what you see is what you get, her listening ear, her wise counsel, her fierce commitment to being our friend, to loving those of us lucky enough to have been in that circle. We are all better people because of her.
Marlyn was an incredibly loving woman. She spent her life caring for three boys, Patrick, Kevin, and Scott, shepherding them into manhood and ferociously loving her grandchildren, Kyle, Ian, and Emilee. She made the choice of a lifetime to end one marriage and follow her heart for love with Chuck, a tall young man who only wanted her. The two of them built a partnership based on the intimacy of souls and the courage to move to the mountains of Montana where they lived in a log house in the woods.
I will miss my dear friend, Marlyn, terribly. The field of early childhood education has lost one of its greatest champions. Hopefully, we all will try to live up to her legacy and continue to do what’s right in the world, for young children, for our families, and for the planet.
With deep sadness,