Marlene Derven Marshall was born in Nyack, N.Y., to MaryJane and Karl Derven on August 26, 1945, and died on Friday, May 1, in Kent County Hospital in Warwick. She was the fourth of their six children. She is survived by her brothers, Ralph, Ronald and Kenneth Derven and their children; and her sister, Priscilla Derven. She is predeceased by her oldest brother, Peter Derven and her parents.
She grew up in Upper Grandview, N.Y. in a house her grandfather built, overlooking the Hudson River. She graduated from Nyack High School in 1963, the Fashion Institute of Technology in 1965 and received a BA at the University of Maryland in the early 1970’s. She worked in the garment industry as an apparel designer and pattern maker in NYC, Seattle, Washington, Baltimore, Maryland and Cranston, R.I. When the garment industry left the northeast, she worked in real estate in R.I. In the ten years before her retirement she worked as a civilian for the Department of Defense on the US Naval base in Newport in various administrative jobs.
She married her high school sweetheart, Anthony DiBenedetto in 1965 and they divorced c.1973. She married John Scott Marshall, a chief petty officer for the U.S. Navy c. 1978. They lived and worked in Baltimore and moved to Rhode Island when he was transferred to Newport. She worked in the garment industry in Cranston. They separated in the early 1990s.
Her life partner was Charles O’Connell whom she met in Providence in the early 1990s they spent the next 30 years (with a two-year hiatus along the way) as best friends, constant companions and life partners. They were both serious, avid painters and took camping trips all over New England and Canada in their camper, with a strong focus on painting what they saw wherever they went. Charles was a loving and very capable companion to Marlene. After her retirement, they had planned to travel again for painting but that plan came unraveled when Charles was diagnosed with esophageal cancer. Marlene took care of him as best she could and in the process neglected herself. At the time of his death in March 2019, she was in a terrible state of undernourishment and unable to take care of herself. She was quite dependent on Charles until that time in their later years together. Soon after that sad time for them, she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease. After attempting to continue living alone with part time help, it became clear she needed much more attention.
She opted to move into Atria Harbor Hill, a beautiful, 19th c. former mansion, now an independent/ assisted living residence. It was a place she and Charles knew well, as it was right across the street from them in East Greenwich, RI. Despite the disease robbing her of her cognition, she remained a cheerful presence to those around her, meeting people anywhere and treating them like friends. She could always salvage joy in life even during hard times and would stop and look at the clouds or flowers in awe of their beauty. She made many friends in her new home at Atria in the last three years, both staff and fellow residents. She was such a special woman. She had a vibrancy, even as she declined with the disease.
Her funeral and burial will be private.
You can leave an online condolence at the Hill Funeral Home website HERE.
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