Profile of a Friend

Marian Halo Dwyer

Marian Halo Dwyer was born to Near Eastern parents who had emigrated to the United States after the political and human tragedy to Christians and Armenians in the former Ottoman Empire during the period between 1915 and 1923. Her Armenian mother was a laboratory technician for the city of New York and worked for 32 years in the Department of Health. Her Assyrian father worked for the New York Department of Justice as an interpreter of Arabic, Turkish, and Persian for the courts. Marian attended Hunter College, graduating with degrees in theater and music. She worked in various jobs in New York, from gift wrapping items at Alexander’s to minor secretarial jobs on Wall Street. She married Frank Dwyer, a China Burma India war veteran and, thanks to the G.I. Bill, a fellow Hunter alum. Together, they set up a household in Yonkers, he as a supervisor for Schaeffer Brewing, while she stayed home and raised their children and studied sculpture. She met and studied with Jacques Lipschitz and William Zorach at this time while studying at an art class she took “on a whim.”
She moved with her family to Newark, New Jersey, where Frank worked for New Jersey Bell, and after the birth of their third child, she became more concerned bout her husband’s heavy drinking. She became a member of Alanon, where she learned more about the disease of alcoholism and the alcoholic. With three children, ages two, seven, and eleven in tow, she moved herself into a small summer camp located in Bristol, Maine, in August of 1967, a week before race riots broke out and devastated downtown Newark.

In Maine she worked as a second grade teacher and substitute in the school system, and she attended many churches. She met Naomi Michaelson through her school experiences, thereby coming into contact with Nancy Booth, Chouteau Chapin, Bill Bonyun, and the ”Treasure Hunt” circle of co-workers. It was Chouteau and her husband, Stewart, who invited her to attend a “small meeting of Friends (with a capital F)” and shepherded her and her family to meetings in the homes of Midcoast Meeting families—the Schmidts, the Chapins, the Colbys, the Ortloffs, and later, to Skidompha Library (home of Midcoast Meeting for many years).

At that time, Meeting was a far more locally active/focused community. The founding of People to People was a tremendous responsibility, driven by Nancy Booth, and Marian played a small role. She also participated with Friends in calling out for accountability in regards to the Vietnam War. Chouteau would stand at the barricades, and Marian (when time permitted) would stand with her. Nancy would sit at the bake sales in front of (then) Yellowfront, and Marian would sit with her. As Meeting grew, as younger families became excited with the anti-war movement, and as elders needed help with attending, Marian was there to welcome them, cooking and making newcomers and travelers feel welcome in what was a taciturn and sometimes stand-offish region. Marian would contribute her talents and her wisdom to families. On many occasions, she opened her home, situated by a popular swimming hole, for use as a changing station for mothers with infants or as a telephone booth for people making calls.

After the end of the Vietnam era, Marian became more active in local issues again, but in 1978, again led by the Chouteau’s example, she left on a month-long trip for Rio Caliente in Guadalajara, Mexico. She enjoyed Mexico so much she returned two more times. There she worked on her art, which was influenced by the Toltec works she encountered.

In Maine she also was very active in town politics and had a tremendous influence on the formation of the Great Salt Bay School (her work, “the Frog Princess,” is on display there, as testament to her efforts tending that way).
Being one “who tread lightly on the earth, seeing that of God in everyone,” she decided to leave Midcoast Meeting to pursue a more musical congregation and left to sing with her longtime partner, Allen Hind, a Christian Scientist. She often said, “Love is when two people live with each other and care for one another till their hair grows white.” As a duo, they traveled to Calabria and Sicily in Italy, as well as to Milan and the Tasze community, located in the Northern Alps, singing and playing piano for Armenian relief after devastating earthquakes.

Nancy Booth recalls her singing “Oh, What a Beautiful Morning” while riding in Naples, much to the pleasure of the local Neapolitans, who cried “Bravo.”

After a long battle with breast cancer, Marian passed away quietly while being given foot massages and listening to tagalog chimes, surrounded by candlelight, with her family present. Her ashes were scattered in the falls at Damariscotta Mills.

She is survived by her daughter Alison and granddaughter Caralyn, of Nobleboro, her son Glenn and his wife Jayne and granddaughter Olivia, of Damariscotta, and her son Robert and his wife Sally, who live in the Boston area and summer in Bristol.

—Glenn Dwyer, 12/19/05