Marilee Garrett (née Brady) closed her beautiful blue eyes for the last time on Sunday, Feb. 9, 2020 at 6:30 A.M. She was sleeping peacefully at The Inn Between hospice facility in the Sugar House section of Salt Lake City, Utah, where she had spent her young adulthood. Marilee lived her final months there in comfort, enjoying regular visits from her siblings, Mark, Michele, and Melinda, from extended family in the area, from old friends, and from family and friends living in Idaho, where Marilee had lived for the better part of thirty years.
Born July 4, 1955 to Melvin Earl Brady, a contractor, and Diane Parkinson, an educator, Marilee was too curious about the world and too squirmy to sit still for school work. Perhaps when she later embraced teaching as a profession, she remembered her struggles and commisserated with her students. Over a long career, she taught English, Spanish, and Special Education. She especially shone in this final specialization and never failed to be embarrassed when students, parents, and colleagues heaped praise on her work. It was pure joy to watch her teach.
The Brady family was enjoying a comfortable, upper middle-class life in the Millcreek area of Salt Lake City when Diane began suffering health problems that resulted in protracted hospital stays. The worried young children did not know how to cope and Melvin was beside himself trying to earn a living and stay by his wife’s side. Diane succumbed at age 38 on July 20, 1967, and life fell apart. Marilee at age twelve took up much of the slack in household chores and raising her ten-year-old sister. Still uninspired by academics, she dropped out of Skyline High School in her senior year in order to support the family. Although this was necessary, it galled her to her end of days and the GED diploma she earned brought little consolation.
She was proud, however, of earning a Bachelor’s degree in English (University of Utah, 1980) and a Master’s in Special Education (Northern Arizona University, 2001), while working gruelling hours and caring for the children she bore between 1974 and 1982 (including a set of twins, which presented special logistical challenges). Then, when she might have come up for air, beginning in 1991, Marilee’s brood brought home their own children for Grandma to tend nights, weekends, and sometimes for longer periods. Marilee pushed through many a lean year before her Master’s degree secured an ample salary. She taught junior/middle and senior high school in West Valley, Utah; Richfield, Idaho; Bullhead City, Arizona; and Buhl, Murray, and Twin Falls, Idaho. Twin Falls High School was her final assignment and she thoroughly enjoyed it.
The strain of such a driven life brought on two heart attacks in 2003 (which put her into bankruptcy, which she swiftly and fully discharged). By the end of the 2017 school year, Marilee could no longer keep up with the physical demands of teaching high school and took early retirement. Newly married to Paul D Garrett, she enjoyed the easy life for about a week before signing up as an Instructor in English as a Second Language (ESL) at the College of Southern Idaho (CSI). Suffering two severe fractures to her left arm within a year, she let Paul help by carrying her books, writing on the whiteboards, erasing, and generally raising cain. She loved getting to know students from around the world, mostly refugees from political turmoil. Her heart went out to them.
Marilee’s teaching career ended abruptly on June 14, 2019, when, driving to a grandson’s graduation in Oregon, she suffered a seizure while fueling the car, woke up in an emergency room, and was informed that she had Stage 4 lung cancer, metastasized to her brain, and had just months to live. Forbidden to drive and afraid of scaring her students by another seizure, she resigned the position she truly loved. A biopsy in Boise, Idaho, and further tests in Twin Falls, confirmed a Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), a most aggressive brain cancer. The doctors all emphasized that GBM is never survived. Nevertheless, Marilee underwent Intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) and oral chemotherapy with Temozolomide (TMZ). At the beginning of September she learned that the GBM had not shrunk at all during the debilitating treatment but had grown. She chose to discontinue treatments and signed up for hospice care. Sister Michele, a Salt Lake City registered nurse coordinated efforts to get Marilee into a comfortable situation near her siblings. Paul followed, lodging in an AirBnB and spending every day at her side.
Marilee was preceded in death by her paternal grandparents Sidney Alphonso Brady and Della Hurst and her maternal grandparents Frank Lane Parkinson and Zada Justesen. All four had profound influences on her early life and remained forever dear in her heart. Marilee was proud of her forebears, many quite distinguished, whom Paul traced back to the Norman Conquest of England.
Marilee is survived by her second husband, Paul; her three siblings, Melvin Mark (wife Elena Fajardo), Michele Ann (husband Scott Richards Macdonald), and Melinda Sue Wallace; three daughters: Melissa, Grace Beth,Misty Diane, and two sons, Jacob Adam (wife Marites Pacion), and Isaac Melvin (partner Ryann Riedmann). Grandma Marilee burst with pride at the very thought of grandkids, old and young: Chessa Lilly (husband: Cory Hentrup), Brandon Desmond Choice, Steven David Kennison, Benjen Devont Lilly, Terrell Britton Winder McCoy, Michael Charles Wolf, Julia Diane Lilly, Aiden James McCoy, Johanna Marie Grier, Rachel Valerie Lilly, Jenna Heidi Lilly-Evans, Adham Pacion Grier, Jordyn Sapphire McCoy, William Evans, and Jett James McCoy. In addition, Paul brought five grown children and nine grandchildren to the marriage in 2015 and Marilee spoiled each of them like her very own. They would run past Grampy to hug Grandma with great peals of joy.
Arrangements are under the care of Serenity Funeral Chapel Life Celebration Center & Cremation Services of Idaho.
Condolences may be shared at www.serenityfuneralchapel.com.
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