Mary Frances Marlin was born in Buffalo, New York on August 20, 1943. She lived with her mother, father, and brother in Cheektowaga, a suburb of Buffalo until she was 22 years old. She attended Cleveland Hill High school, played the violin in the orchestra, learned French, loved art, and graduated with honors. Her grandparents had a cottage in Attica. It was situated on a mountain that overlooked the Attica prison. She spent every weekend at the cottage and remembers great nature walks with her grandfather and swimming in the Attica guard’s pool. These experiences grew her love of nature. In her junior year, she was selected to be a Foreign Exchange student through the American Field Service organization. She spent four months in France with two French families. Twenty-eight students went to France. They spent two weeks in Paris before meeting their families. It was an experience of a lifetime. The first family lived near the Swiss town of Basil. The second lived in Thionville, near the border of Luxembourg. The second family owned a bakery. Every night the unsold baked goods were brought home. Needless to say, she gained weight living with that family.
Then it came time to go to college. She wanted to be a graphic artist. She told her father as a senior that she wanted to go to Pratt Institute in New York City to become a graphic artist. He said, “No, Mary Frances, you will be a nurse and you will go to college to become one.” She said, “Okay!” In 1961 she was accepted to the University of Buffalo with a full regent’s scholarship. The first day of class was monumental. She was given the BCG vaccine, the Rorsach test, and the Dean told them that from that day on, they would never be the same. She said, “You will change in ways you cannot imagine. You will share the greatest joys and sorrows that humans can endure. She was right. In her senior year, she told the Dean that she would have to drop out because she could not pay the last semester’s tuition. She said, “You will not drop out!” She got her purse and wrote her a check for the last semester. She paid her back, and always remembered her kindness.
Following college, she began working as a staff nurse at the Buffalo’s Veteran’s Administration hospital. She married her fellow classmate, Daniel Marlin. The adventure began. Now married 55 years, they reminisce over their journey together. They had three children: Kimberly, Keith who they adopted at one month of age, and Heather born eight months later. They lived in New Jersey, Rochester, New York, and Long Island, New York before moving to Wimbledon, England. They came to love the English way of life. Following England, they moved to California, where they have lived since 1981.
Mary Frances is a nurse consultant! That means that she is a professional nurse who provides expert advice in a specialized area. Family and community health and injury prevention are her focus. The adventure to this role has been amazing. She shares it with you as follows. She tells all her students to get off the path and get in the garden. That is where the magic happens. Her garden has bloomed beautifully. She is happiest and at her best when she is off the trodden path. In fact, she hates the word no! It is an overused and abused word. As a consultant, she can say no, but she uses it sparingly. She wants to use the words…I think we can. What an excellent idea, Yes!
She can remember how the injury prevention bug bit her in graduate school at the University of San Diego. After graduation, she was hired to develop the Community Education Department at Mission Hospital in Mission Viejo and reported to the Director of Marketing. Every nurse should have that experience. He never said, NO! He wanted her to develop a health information booth in the Mission Viejo Mall. She did! It was staffed with registered nurses 69 hours a week. It offered physician referrals, BP screening, health information, and a variety of health promotion classes in a 2400 square foot educational facility in the community. That was 1986. She was off the path.
Interestingly, one nurse asked her what she did when she was a real nurse? She told her she was a real nurse! She said, “No, when you were a real nurse. Her anger dissipated when she began teaching a Community Nursing course and found her sitting in the class. Yes! She learned what it meant to be a nurse…A real nurse!
Next, she developed CHOC’s Community Education Department. Her department saw 200,000 family members, children, and community members a year.
Here are some of her garden stories.
Trained 900 members "in CPR" on Saturday.
Chaired the Drowning Prevention Network for two years.
Chaired the Violence Prevention Coalition for two years.
Formed the first Orange County Chapter of National Safe Kids.
Developed the programs: Home Alone, Safe and Secure, Safe Sitter, Surviving the Fast Food Jungle, and Buckle Bear.
Held child seat installations and gave away free car seats.
Created the superheroes, Sprocket Woman and Man who gave out free helmets in elementary schools.
Produced award-winning drama documentation titled: The Silent Fall. It won a silver award from the America Corporate Video awards and was one of four finalists in the International American Medical Association Film Festival.
Developed a mobile safety house.
In 2002, she formed her own company: Health Options. She became a full-fledged consultant in that role. At that time the Orange County Department of Education learned of the research of Bruce Perry, a psychiatrist who believes that if a child under the age of five is exposed to violence, their brain will not develop normally. They sent her to train with him for three days. She helped OCDE create the Safe from the Start program including co-authoring the parent workbook that has been translated into five languages. It has been her passion. Ten thousand Orange County residents have learned Perry’s message to date.
A consultant has a lot of freedom. The choice is hers to accept an invitation to work for an organization.
She went back to the State University of New York for her 50th reunion. Memories became so real. They did not have teams, but they did have group projects. Her group would present a dressing change on a burned patient. She was the patient. Her name was Crispy Dunn. Little did she know that Judy wanted the raw meat that was going to be put on her legs to be realistic. The group would not let her look at her legs as they dressed them. She only got the full shock of her handiwork during the presentation. You see, she let the meat set out for three days. When she finally got a view of her legs, she saw maggots crawling everywhere. She screamed like a schoolgirl and they got an A on the assignment.
This university’s nursing program has about 480 students. It is listed in the 20th best undergraduate and graduates nursing programs by US News World Report. Degrees include BSN, MSN, NP, Ph.D., DNS, and Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist. Students go to Belize over summer or winter breaks for community mission work. Community members are hired to be actors in the simulation lab scenarios. The university has a long history of providing academic excellence and large research and intensive educational programs focus.
Her graduate education was at the University of San Diego; another institution of excellence. There she was a student of an amazing nursing visionary…Rosella Schlotfeldt. Rosella is no longer with us today, but she cherishes her definition of the role of a nurse: Nurses are responsible and accountable for assisting human beings – those essentially well, those at risk and those ill and impaired – to attain, retain, and regain an optional state of health. That is who nurses are! That is what they do. This the path that she follows. This is the path that includes a passion for helping parents and children learn how to be safe and secure.
Kids Safe and Secure
~ By Mary Frances Marlin ~