Woodstock – Marilyn S. Ebbitt of Pulpit Rock Rd. died peacefully at home on Saturday, August 3, 2019 after a long battle with ovarian cancer. Marilyn was a lover of flowers, literature, cooking, needlepoint, friends and family. Her extraordinary mind was clear to the end, and she had many visits and conversations with her friends, former students, and extended family. Her loving husband Ken, their children, grandchildren and her adoring sister Dee spent the final three weeks with her in their Woodstock home.
Marilyn was born in Washington, D.C. to Dr. and Mrs. Ernest A. Sarao. She grew up in Maryland and attended Georgetown Visitation Preparatory School, an all-girls school that she credits as a guiding force in shaping her to become a strong, self-reliant, intellectually curious woman of faith and purpose. Marilyn was a graduate of Marquette University and spent her junior year at the Sorbonne where she received her diploma with honors. She also attended the Ecole Du Louvre in Paris. Following her graduation, she began her teaching career with Teachers of America in Roxbury, MA before returning to D.C. where she received a master’s degree in French and linguistics from Georgetown University.
In the Spring of 1968, she met Ken in Georgetown shortly after his return from Vietnam. They were married in June 1969 and moved to Bronxville, NY. They joyfully celebrated their 50th Wedding Anniversary in June. Marilyn taught French at Chappaqua High School for several years before enrolling at Fordham University to pursue a doctorate in French Literature. After seven years teaching French at Fordham, Marilyn changed her career path to teach English at Brunswick School, a private boys’ school in Greenwich, CT. She was soon appointed Chair of the English Department, a position she held for nearly 20 years.
Marilyn pursued the craft of teaching with unparalleled passion. She taught her students to adore the beauty of the written word, to write with bold precision, to voice their opinions, and to clarify their thinking. She insisted that each student hold themselves to higher standards both inside and outside of the classroom. She was a teacher who was as likely to rework an English essay a dozen times with a student, as she was to bake birthday cakes for her advisees, and as a result, she developed life-long relationships with many of her students.
After Marilyn retired from Brunswick School, she and Ken moved from New Canaan, Connecticut, to Woodstock where they had owned a summer and weekend home since 1981. Marilyn soon realized she was not ready for retirement and as a devoted member of Most Holy Trinity Church in Pomfret she headed the committee that restored and renovated the church in 1999. As her last project, Marilyn recently needle-pointed the altar chairs at Most Holy Trinity. Marilyn was a Trustee of the Church at her death.
In the Summer of 2001, Marilyn came out of retirement and began the most rewarding job of her career when she was appointed Headmistress of Marianapolis Preparatory School in Thompson, CT. She became the first woman and first head of the School not a Marian Father. She had a clear vision for the school, and during her 10 years at Marianapolis enrollment rose from 196 students to 324, facilities were updated, two new dormitories for boarding students were purchased, as were several houses for faculty. In 2010, she and her husband represented The Trinity Foundation in its purchase of Marianapolis from the Congregation of Marian Fathers. With her vision realized and goals met, in 2011, Marilyn retired as Headmistress Emerita. At her retirement, the Board of The Trinity Foundation named the gate at the entrance to the school Ebbitt Gate in her honor.
A firm believer that “more is better!” Marilyn celebrated each holiday with abandon. Most notably her Thanksgivings, Christmases, and birthdays were famously huge and beautifully decorated—each a perfect jumble of organized chaos, delicious food, heaps of children, dogs, pool floats, pinatas, gingerbread candy houses, wrapped gifts, books, and cut flowers. No matter the celebration, it was guaranteed the house would be full of laughter, friends, wonderful memories, and an endless amount of cake. Marilyn found her greatest happiness in making others happy. She brimmed with life—she drank it up—and she will be deeply missed by all who knew her.
Besides her husband Ken, she is survived by her daughter Carolyn (Rob) Russo and son Kenneth Cooper (Jennie) Ebbitt III and grandchildren Ryan, Cooper, Tyler and Emily Ebbitt and Jack and Bobby Russo. She is also survived by her sister Dee Cramsie and her brother Ernest A. Sarao Jr.
Relatives and friends are invited to a visitation from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. on Friday, August 9, 2019 at the Gilman Funeral Home & Crematory, 104 Church St, Putnam, CT. A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, August 10, 2019 at the Most Holy Trinity Church in Pomfret, CT. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Marilyn’s memory to The Ebbitt Family Foundation which supports college scholarships for the children of faculty and staff members. Gifts can be made online at www.marianapolis.org/ebbitt or by mailing a check to Marianapolis Preparatory Development Office, P.O. Box 304, 26 Chase Road, Thompson, CT 06277. For memorial guestbook please visit www.GilmanandValade.com.