Since September 6 is Mari’s birthday, I decided to insert a post as a tribute to her, much like those I have already presented about her father, my father and mother, our son Keiron, and Mari’s high school Clique.
When Mari retired from teaching in 2008 one of the younger teachers in her school who had great admiration, respect, and fondness for Mari decided to make up a secret Power Point program to present as a tribute to Mari on her final day of school. Since it was to be a surprise, Tammy Makinson asked me to provide biographical information, photos, and music to use in preparing that presentation.
It is basically that biographical information and those photos and musical pieces that I now offer in the following tribute to Mari. Since it has been three years since it was composed, some of the photos, especially the ones of our two sons and grandsons, are now a bit dated. But generally the material is presented just as I provided it to Tammy who took from it, added to it, and made up her Power Point presentation. It was a wonderful surprise to Mari and a resounding success with all those who, like Tammy and me, love, admire, and esteem her.
My Tribute to Mari
A Labor of Love
Her real name is Marion, Marion Williams,
Or at least it used to be,
Now it’s Marion Peacock,
A name she got from me.
—First verse of “Mari,” a poem by Jimmy Peacock
Birth and Childhood
Marion Elliott Williams was born on September 6, 1942, in St. Mary’s hospital in Dermott, Arkansas, located in Chicot County, which borders Mississippi and Louisiana.
Her mother and father had married a week before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, which occurred on December 7, 1941. Her father Grover tried to enlist in the armed forces but was turned down for flat feet; later he was drafted into the U.S. Army and sent to the South Pacific where he served until the end of World War II. He did not see Marion until he returned from the war. She was three years old at the time and did not accept him as her father because her father was a picture on her mother’s dresser. (See my tribute to Grover titled “The Passing of a Real Man” in an earlier post.)
During the war years Marion and her mother Mary Elizabeth (called “Bessie”) lived with Marion’s grandmother and grandfather on a farm near Florence, Arkansas.
When Grover returned from the war, he moved his family to McGehee (pronounced Magee), Arkansas, in the Mississippi River Delta about ten miles from the Mississippi River, where he went to work for the Missouri Pacific Railroad, a job he held until his retirement. (Grover died in 1989.) In about 1946, the family joined the First Baptist Church of McGehee in which Marion was later active throughout her childhood and youth.
Marion started to school in McGehee where she was chosen as a beauty queen and played Cinderella in a school play. Later in McGehee High School she appeared in school plays and was twice chosen as a homecoming maid and as a band maid. She also played the part of the Christmas angel in the McGehee Community Nativity Scene.
While in high school she and several other girls from her class formed a group later called the Clique who have remained close friends.
It was while she was attending Ouachita that she began dating Jimmy Peacock from McGehee, whom she had known most of her life from school and church. Jimmy’s family had moved to McGehee in 1948 from the country village of Selma, Arkansas, about seven miles from Florence, where Marion spent her early years.
On December 27, 1962, Marion and Jimmy were married in the First Baptist Church of McGehee. Jimmy was teaching French and Social Studies in Holly Grove, Arkansas (population about 600-700). Marion (age twenty) began teaching there also before going back some time later to complete her student teaching and BSE degree at Ouachita. She and Jimmy taught in Holly Grove for five years (1962-67).
After graduation in 1968 Jimmy began teaching French at Arkansas State University in Jonesboro. It was there that Marion gave birth to their second son Keiron, who was born in 1970 in the same hospital and town in which Southern writer John Grisham was born (St. Bernard’s in Jonesboro). (Keiron, who works full time for the Oklahoma National Guard, is the platoon sergeant for the scout and sniper platoon of the 279th Infantry, currently deployed in Afghanistan.)
Later Jimmy taught in Baptist junior colleges in South Carolina and the couple did volunteer mission work as houseparents at the Arkansas Baptist Home for Children in Monticello, where Jimmy’s mother worked and died. Later they moved back to their hometown of McGehee, where Marion taught for three years until Jimmy took a job in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and moved his family there in 1977 (thirty-four years ago).
Teaching Years and Family Life
Marion began teaching at Jefferson Elementary School in Sapulpa where the family moved into their new home on Halloween Day. She taught for thirty-one years in Jefferson (Heights) Elementary, several times being named Teacher of the Year and later Head Teacher, a position she held the rest of her teaching career. Her own children attended Jefferson and later graduated from Sapulpa High School. Now her grandchildren attend that same elementary school where she continues to do substitute teaching and volunteer work.
Retirement, Hobbies, Interests, Etc.
Marion retired in June 2008 after thirty-one years of teaching in Oklahoma, plus eight years in Arkansas. She spends her time volunteering at school, playing with her grandsons (whom she adores), helping Jimmy in his writing/editing business (which he operates out of the home), taking an active part in her church, and enjoying her hobbies (which are reading, gardening, and handicrafts—and getting with her Clique who have met together once a year since 1991).
Besides her grandchildren, her family, her church, her husband, and the Clique, Marion’s favorites are . . .
1. Musician: Elvis Presley (she loves to listen to his music and watch TV programs about his life).
2. Childhood cowboy hero: Roy Rogers (on her wall she has a framed photo of Roy, Dale, and Trigger sent to her by her son Sean from Los Angeles).
3. Movie actor: Paul Newman (whose food products she buys); she also likes Patrick Swayze and Pierce Brosnan (and OU/Rams quarterback Sam Bradford).
4. Color: Pink (her signature shade—her Christmas wedding flower was a pink poinsettia).
5. Foods: Fresh coconut cake, fruit cobblers (peach, blackberry, etc.), Mexican food, and anything cooked Southern-style—especially anything hot and spicy.
6. Song: Anything by Elvis (especially his love songs) and “Oldies But Goodies” (especially Fifties Rock ‘n Roll).
7. Picture of herself: One taken when she was a little girl in elementary school (with a pink ribbon in her hair and a delicate little handkerchief pinned to her blouse).
8. Her husband’s favorite picture of Marion: One taken of her with the Clique wearing a long white dress, one in her wedding dress. Also one of her with the grandkids a few years ago in “hog noses.”
10. Nickname: Mari (pronounced “Mary”) given to her by Jimmy after their first couple of dates. (Jimmy’s poem with this title will be presented in a later post about the love affair of the Peacocks.)
11. Outing: A day spent with her grandsons, Levi, eleven, and Ben, nine.
Music Used by Tammy Makinson in Power Point Presentation about Marion (with links)
- Elvis Presley, “Memories” (Marion)
- Bobby Darin, “You Must Have Been a Beautiful Baby” (Marion) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hNSlxuOh6fY
- The Penguins, “Earth Angel” (Marion)http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jznZQXaSYPo
- The Shirelles, “The Chapel of Love” (Marion and Jimmy) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cMfrLFirGWc
- Elvis Presley, “Love Me Tender” (Marion and Jimmy) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HZBUb0ElnNY
- Elvis Presley, “Green, Green Grass of Home” (Marion and Jimmy) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ksVpFUtgbvA
- Elvis Presley, “America the Beautiful”
- Whitney Houston, “Greatest Love” (Marion and her pupils) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1KjpyHX7X-o
- Johnny Rivers, “Secret Agent Man”
- Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, “Happy Trails” (Jimmy and Marion) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XcYsO890YJY
Happy Birthday, Mari!
NOTE: For more information about Marion’s love for Elvis Presley’s music, especially his CD of love songs, see the earlier post titled “My First Encounter with Elvis Presley and His Music.” For additional information about Mari’s Clique, see the earlier post titled “My Annual Tributes to the Clique.” For more information about Mari and other photos of her, see the earlier posts “My Story Begins” and “My Lifelong Attraction to Black Beauty.” For more about the romance between Marion and Jimmy, look for a future post titled “The Love Story of the Peacocks.”