Marian ...

vivianne solis viviannesw at yahoo.com
Wed Jan 7 15:25:10 EST 2004


What a sad news… but of course this is only the conclusion of the previous 
ones. For me, the sad news about Marian Pettibone began when she left the 
Smithsonian, because it was for health reasons, this incredibly strong and 
independent woman was not feeling well... and then, when she was taken to that 
last retirement place, in the State of Washington, I knew that we, or at least 
I, would not hear again from her directly.  

I met her very long ago, in my first visit to Smithsonian, early eighties... 
and from the beginning she was an incredible personnality to meet, with all 
the qualities the other colleagues have underlined, and many more. I was very 
impressed, because her reputation preceded her, but was not prepared to the 
fact that such an impressive person, so intelligent and acute, one of the four 
best known living polychaetologists of the world then, was also so gentle and 
nice. She was always so friendly with me, always smiling...she helped when an 
obscure article or an academic advice was needed and then with all she had to 
do, she also had time to take me out, to a movie at the Smithsonian or to an 
exposition. In the years following my sabbatical at Smithsonian with Kristian, 
every time I went to Washington, she would treat me to a lunch in “The Cast 
le”; I always felt very honored, and came to expect it as one of the 
highlights of my visits there, for we would then chat mainly about polychaetes 
and  polycheatologists in informal ways but also about other matters.  

Once, during my sabbatical, Kristian and I saw her, one afternoon, from the 
lab window, walking down the street: she was going to Jury duty, Kristian 
informed me. Then she told me about it, and if proof need be of her character, 
she said that she did not even considered leaving the jury room until she 
convinced all the others of what the veredict should be, and she had her way, 
of course! Another time, when I announced that we would dedicate a genus of 
orbinid to her, her comment was that she wanted to be certain we did things 
correctly, because she would not want to be synonimised later!   There are 
thousands of anecdotes that could be told about Marian, for she interacted 
with so many of us in so many ways, I only chose two, but now that she is 
definitely gone, the memories of all she was, of all the time spent together, 
of the inspiration she gave, of all that world that the Smithsonian represents 
to those of us that have had the good fortune to be there, begin to flow back 
to me... they were very good years indeed when she was around and fortunately 
for her, she lived a long and productive life... more importantly,  she gave 
us the disctincive impression that she lived it as she wanted to live it, and 
that is perhaps her best achievement.  


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