Published by Marin Independent Journal on March 6, 2022.
Marilyn Lou Baum McNicholas When William Ernest McNicholas first saw Marilyn Lou Baum at 39 Main in Tiburon, it was an instant attraction that led to a nearly 55-year, unwavering love story. The final chapter (for now) was written on February 15, 2022, when Marilyn unexpectedly passed away while enjoying the early morning snowfall through the wraparound windows of her favorite lakefront condo in South Lake Tahoe. South Lake Tahoe was one of a few worthwhile travel destinations that Marilyn enjoyed during the pandemic. Marilyn was honored during a private family-only service at Valley Memorial Park with her husband William (known to many as Bill), son Todd William McNicholas and his wife Jennifer Mary McNicholas, son Chadd Edward McNicholas and his wife Beth Ann McNicholas, daughter Kymberlie Bee McNicholas, longtime family friend of two generations Marie Martinez, her Pomeranian: Princess Chardonnay (aka Char Char), Prince Tito the Tiger and grand pup Bailey-Bee. Born on June 16, 1939 in San Francisco, Marilyn moved with her family to San Anselmo at a young age, then to San Rafael, where Marin County became her home for more than 75 years. After graduating from San Rafael High School, Marilyn attended College of Marin and San Jose State University, where she earned a degree in business administration before becoming a flight attendant with Hughes AirWest, at a time when the role was prestigious and fierce competition was marked. However, that position, which included celebrity flights between Los Angeles and Las Vegas, couldn’t compete with true love. After her eternal “YES” to Bill, the couple briefly lived in Danville, Virginia before settling permanently in Marin County. Marilyn and Bill raised three successful children in their Marinwood home, which they bought in 1971. Marilyn was a devoted wife and mother who devoted her life to her family every day, always ready and willing to be that strong foundation and support whenever she wanted and where needed, cleaning up until the day , on which she passed into heaven. She never let her own limitations prevent her from serving others. Her legacy is her selfless nature, unwavering commitment to family and unconditional love. It’s a legacy cherished by her family and the hundreds of students she has served during her tenure as a special resource aid through the Marin County Board of Education. She hugged each student as if he/she were her own child, taking all their trials and difficulties to heart, but also feeling so much a part of their triumphs and expressing her joy as she shared these special moments with family. Marilyn’s joy was always for others. She particularly appreciated the uniqueness compared to other cultures and traditions. This was evident in how she quickly adopted Bill’s extended Amish relatives as a family. She valued her craft, valued her work, and her desire to produce products of the highest quality, particularly Amish quilts and furniture. But what she loved most about her Amish relatives was their down-to-earth nature, pure heart, infectious spirit, and spirit of adventure. She welcomed them into her home during their first train journey to the West Coast and shared with them an unparalleled experience of firsts: first steps in the Pacific Ocean, first gondola ride through wine country, first trip across the San Francisco Bay, and first up-close encounters with sharks , Bengal tigers and dolphins. She also looked forward to her handwritten letters and trips back to her farms, cherished her simple lifestyle and intensely focused on quality time with loved ones, putting aside her daily chores to gather herself and share her contagious spirit with her extended California family split. Her connection to them was so strong that she embraced life-changing spiritual experiences that she would attribute only to her faith. Marilyn has not only put her heart and soul into her human relationships, but also into those of her furry friends and family. This quote comes to mind for those closest to Marilyn: “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” Mahatma Gandhi. Marilyn’s height is similar. Marilyn was an animal lover through and through. It didn’t matter if it had fins, scales, feathers or fur. Her passion was contagious and passed that love on to her children. Although the children loved their animals, growing up their care was always left to the good old mother who was unsurpassed as an animal whisperer and raised each pet beyond the normal lifespan due to her exceptional love and care. She always said: “You can never spoil an animal, especially a Pomeranian, because love, care and attention are the least they deserve.” Marilyn’s Pomeranians took her almost everywhere, even to her weekly mahjong games, which she greatly enjoyed, and enjoyed lunch and socializing with close friends. These Pomeranians also made the perfect, lovable travel companions on road trips that took them up and down the California coast from Timber Cove Lodge, to Carmel and to Carlsbad. They also traveled further inland to South Lake Tahoe, Palm Springs and the Grand Canyon. Marilyn loved to travel, be it by car, plane or cruise. In the early years, annual family vacations coincided with Bill’s Naval Reserve assignments, taking them on two-week adventures to Washington, DC to teach the kids about the nation’s history, or to Oahu for fun in the sun at the beach. But she really looked forward to couples-only adventures, particularly her annual three-week trips to the big island of Hawaii, before many years before she discovered the joy of cruising. The cruise took Bill and Marilyn island hopping through Hawaii, up the coast to Alaska and down the California coast to Mexico, across the Caribbean and through the Panama Canal. On a cruise ship, she also watched her son Chadd marry his now-wife Beth in San Francisco and shared with her son Todd his wife Jenny’s first experiences on board in San Diego. One of Marilyn’s favorite trips was a three week cruise and European adventure, stopping at the beaches of the Azores, Omaha and Utah in France (Battlefields of Normandy) and the romantic city of Bruges in Belgium. After disembarking in Amsterdam, Bill and Marilyn extended their holiday on land and enjoyed Dutch culture, windmills and endless canals. Of all Marilyn’s travels, home has always been her favorite destination. She appreciated the simple things. She loved enjoying her coffee or cocktails around the fire pit, swimming in the pool, listening to the waterfall, watching the hummingbirds and oriole in the bird feeders and chasing her Pomeranian around the house. Above all, she loved spending time with her family at home. She spent hours on the stairs in the living room, at the dining table or on the edge of the bed, deep in conversation with Bill or the children. She asked a plethora of questions, went through them in minute detail, and welcomed every word and experience they would share. Marilyn is the gift to all of us, sharing with so much love and lessons that will live on forever. Marilyn’s Fund is now established through her daughter’s life and limb 501(c)(3) nonprofit, The Way To My Heart. All donations in her memory will directly help The Way To My Heart care team provide education, high-touch advocacy and support to help prevent others from losing their lives to a ruptured aortic aneurysm. Please help us to help others avoid the untimely loss of a loved one. To donate, visit www.thewaytomyheart.org/donate and help save lives in Marilyn’s memory.