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DIA Volunteers
DIA Volunteers

Volunteer Award Winner:
Marian Patrick

February 2012

Marian was born in Eagle Pass, Texas. Her mother died when her sister was born. They were raised by their maternal grandparents. She was home schooled through middle school. At age six she began piano lessons. In high school the piano instructor let her teach music to students in grades 1–3 to pay for her own lessons. She played the piano in various concerts through college.

Marian attended high school at St. Peter Claver’s Academy, a Catholic boarding school in San Antonio, Texas, where she graduated as valedictorian. She received scholarships to St. Phillips College in San Antonio and Dillard University in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Marian left Dillard at the end of her first year and moved to Detroit to live with her father. She married during World War II and worked at Briggs Manufacturing Company as Rosie the Riveter while her husband served his country overseas. When the war ended, she went to nursing school. After graduating she worked at Highland Park General Hospital. In 1958 she relocated to San Francisco, California, and worked at the University of California Hospital.

While in San Francisco she joined the Black Writer’s Workshop, where Les Gorn, a professor from U.C. Berkeley, instructed the group on play writing. He selected three of the best plays to produce and stage. Marian’s play “Sisters” was one of them.

In 1967 Marian bought a pet and for the next thirty years bred, trained, and showed Dalmatians. Marian returned to Detroit in 1973 and worked at Sinai Hospital until she retired in 1989.

After retirement she joined Annabelle McIlnay’s critique group. She says this critique group improved her writing dramatically due to Annabelle’s influence. She entered the Wayne State University Institute of Gerontology contest. The theme was an incident that changed your life. She won the $300 first prize, was published in the Institute’s magazine Transitions, and the essay was on the university Web site. Next she joined the Detroit Black Writers group and won first prize in a short story contest at a Writers Conference sponsored by the group. She had two short stories published by Euphoria Publishing Company in the anthology Detroit’s Declarations: Showcasing Fifteen of Metro-Detroit’s Finest Aspiring Writers.

Marian has been volunteering at the DIA since 2000. There was an article in the newspaper asking for weekend volunteers to work the Van Gogh exhibit and she responded. She remembers being amazed at how long the lines were for this exhibit.

Marian’s other volunteer activities include being a tutor at Siena Literacy Center, tutor at Coleman Young Elementary School for the Detroit Public School’s Reading Program, usher at the Detroit Opera House, usher at the DFT, and a CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) for abused and neglected children.


Marian’s most enjoyable place in the museum is in the European galleries. She was Gallery Information Corresponding Secretary from 2008 to 2010.

Marian’s next project is her novel Something Told Her, which will be published this spring by Com-Publishing Company. She is also publishing a book of Haiku.  

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