Marion Frances Strange, age 90, a resident of The Arbors in Gulf Breeze, Florida, passed away peacefully Sunday, June 26, 2022. Born in Lawrence Massachusetts on August 12, 1931, she was the loving daughter of the late Cornelius Frances Collins and Alice Virginia (Cullen) Collins. Marion was the eldest of seven children, and grew up in an extended, Irish-Catholic family in the suburbs of Boston. She graduated from Lawrence High School and became a U.S. Naval Reservist while attending Framingham Teacher's College and Wellesley. She earned her Bachelor's in Education, and taught school until she was called to active duty during the Korean War. She was stationed in Washington D.C. where she met George “Jack" Strange, a USAF pilot. After their marriage in Dona Ana, New Mexico in 1954, she was honorably discharged from the Navy. They started a family, and began posting overseas and stateside.
They lived in Sculthorpe, England, Sumpter, SC, Warner Robins, GA, Taiwan, and Tampa, FL, and their family grew. She took on the challenges, unique to the life of a military wife and mother. She taught grade school, Sunday School, and served as Scoutmaster for the boys' and girls' troops. She also embraced her unofficial role as diplomat, when her husband was on special assignment. When he retired as a Lt. Colonel in the early 70's, the family moved to Ft. Lauderdale, FL. Marion received her Master's Degree in Special Education from Florida Atlantic University, taught handicapped children part-time, and continued to adapt to life as a civilian. After 19 years, and seven children, their marriage ended in 1974.
She moved to Crystal River, FL with her youngest child, and returned to teaching full-time. She enjoyed the camaraderie she felt with several of the high school teachers with whom she worked, and she continued to devote herself to the friends she posted with overseas, She joined the US Coast Guard Auxiliary, and was an active member of the National Education Association. She was passionate about local and national politics, and was a strong proponent of equal rights for women. She was a voracious reader, and enjoyed solving the New York Times crossword puzzle. She was also fun-loving, with a quick wit, and an adventurous spirit. She enjoyed traveling, camping, and spending time with family and friends along the way. Eventually, she moved back to Massachusetts to help care for aging relatives. In her 80’s, she returned to Florida (despite being a “Yank” at heart) in order to be closer to her children and grandchildren.
Marion is preceded in death by her daughter, Alice Virginia (Strange) Ortiz of Tallahassee, FL, and her son, Michael George Strange of Lauderhill, FL. Her death is also preceded by her brothers Charles “Chuck” (Edythe) Collins of Cataumet, MA and Walter Collins of Boston, MA, as well as her sister, Honorah “Noreen” Collins, of Falmouth, MA.
Marion's loss is deeply felt by her surviving children: David (Jill) of Gulf Breeze, FL, William “Bill" Strange of Jupiter, FL, Sarah "Sally" (David) Jones of Marianna, FL, Elizabeth "Betsy" (Harry) Gaines of Jacksonville, FL, and Susan (Tom) Springer of Gulf Breeze, FL.
She felt blessed to be grandma to thirteen grandchildren: Adam (Mary) Ortiz of Miami, Eric Jones, and Amie Jones, of Marianna, FL, Margaret “Maggie" (Rafael) Castro, Mathew and Andrew Gaines of Jacksonville, FL, Russell Strange of Hollywood, FL, Jacqueline “Jackie" (Sean) Palmer of Baytown, TX, and Mariann Strange of Houston, TX. Her great grandchildren: Lily and Rafael “Rafi" Castro of Jacksonville, FL, and Luis Ortiz and Alicia Ortiz of Miami, FL.
Marion enjoyed being a big sister to Cornelia “Connie” (Randy) Smedley of Satellite Beach, FL, Virginia “Ginny” (Carl) Flowerday of Holland, MI, and Marjorie “Margie” (Greg) Austin of Wilmington, NC. She had great affection for them, and cherished the memories they shared.