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Marion Lane, Retired Person–A New Star Is Born

by | Mar 5, 2014 | Musings | 23 comments

MarianLane-Zeki-AudreyPavia

 

I write this through tears, having just received a note that Marion Lane died suddenly Monday night of complications from congestive heart failure. I didn’t know she was ill. The pet-writing world is stunned in its surprise and grief. My deepest sympathies to her husband and family.

Marion Lane was a gifted writer, passionate pet advocate, brilliant editor and mentor to writers both new and established. I first met Marion when she worked at the ASPCA, and I was honored to write for her when she served as editor of the award-winning ASPCA magazine. She also authored two books, Heritage of Care: The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and The Humane Society of the United States Complete Guide to Dog Care: Everything You Need to Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy.

MarionLaneCWA2002

Marion speaks at CWA’s 10th Anniversary 2002 in Kansas City. Image Copr. Amy Shojai, CABC

When the Cat Writers Association was in its early years and seeking support, it was Marion who approached the ASPCA on our behalf and secured sponsorship that continues to this day. She was also involved for many years with the Dog Writers Association of American, served on the DWAA board and after her retirement from the ASPCA she briefly served as editor of the DWAA newsletter.

I always got a great kick out of her email signature, which had always been the formal credentials of her position at the ASPCA until she left. Henceforth she signed herself, “Marion Lane, Retired Person.”

This dry recitation of facts doesn’t begin to paint a picture of the Marion we all knew and loved. Many of us are better writers today because of Marion–and dare I say, a few got their start because of her generous help. I never saw Marion without a smile. I never heard or read anything from Marion that wasn’t cordial, helpful, and at times pointed but always honest. At our most recent CWA conference, Marion attended–a seasoned pro who could have (and had!) taught many of us what it means to be a writer–and yet she sat in the audience, attentive, asking questions, encouraging newer folks and making the speakers feel like we truly had something worthy to offer. She did put up a fight over who got to hold Zeki, a lovely demo kitty visiting the conference, and of course Marion won!

I saved one of her last email notes of encouragement and praise of the CWA preview of STRAYS to share it with the cast, and now I’ve added it to the STRAYS page as a tribute to her. That’s just the kind of person she was, offering kewl uplifting and unexpected gifts–and I hope we live up to her expectations.

She always had kind words, it seems, and I wish…oh, how I wish!…I’d told her more often how much that meant to me. Please tell your mentors, tell your friends, tell your colleagues NOW what a difference they make! Don’t wait. Sometimes “later” never comes.

Marion loved her family. She loved her pets. And she loved and supported her friends. And we loved her.

I will miss her, deeply. But now the heaven’s have a new star. May we all be worthy of the light Marion continues to shine upon us.

Audrey writes, “If you would like to honor Marion’s memory, please consider making a donation to the ASPCA in her name. Marion was a former editor at the A, and was a strong believer in their work for animals.”

And friends of Marion, feel free to leave a note about a special memory in the comments, possibly to be included in a future CWA piece about our colleague.

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered–post in the comments. Do you have a new kitten and need answers? I’m a new Brand Ambassador for The Honest Kitchen and you can get FREE samples here, check it out! (Karma loves this!). Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, check out weekly PUPPY CARE must knows, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book give aways and appearances related to my  THRILLERS WITH BITE!

23 Comments

  1. Linda Rehkopf

    Marion, *retired person*, and I carried on an email correspondence, and she always made me feel as if I was the expert. Of course she knew more about pet writing than I ever hope to learn. I’m sad for your heartbreak, Amy, and I’m sad for the pet writer community. My most sincere sympathies to her family.

    • Amy Shojai

      Yes! Marion was so good at that, offering subtle encouragement in just that way. Thanks for sharing.

  2. allia zobel nolan

    I never met Marion in person, but loved, loved, loved her feisty email discussions on the CWA prelist. She had a sharp wit and never shied away from controversy. I must say I will miss the wisdom, humor, and expertise of this “Retired Person.” God welcome her in his arms and show her the way to the field with all the free-roaming kitties. RIP, Marion. Thanks, Amy, for this lovely tribute.

    • Amy Shojai

      LOL! Yes, Marion had her opinions and made them known. *s* I’m sure she’s enjoying a reunion with all the beloved pets that went ahead of her.

  3. Mary Anne Miller

    Marion was assisting me in the writing of my manuscript. Even when things weren’t going quite right, she never laid blame on my greeness to the publication world. She was enthusiastic about the theme and told me many times “this book is needed keep on writing!” I met her briefly at a CWA conference and of course it was her love and experience with cats that drew me closer to her. I am sad for this sudden loss for she had so much left still to share. My prayers are centered on her family as they come to grips with the departure of this star.

    • Amy Shojai

      Oh Mary Anne, this is so like Marion! And I know she’ll be cheering on your efforts and beaming with pride when your manuscript debuts. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Audrey Pavia

    Amy, thank you for that beautiful tribute. Marion was my mentor, and without her, I wouldn’t know you or any of the people in the animal publishing world. She gave me my start back in 1987 when she hired me as an assistant editor on the AKC Gazette. My life changed forever after that.

    Marion was an amazing friend, with a depth of love and caring that is rare in this world. I will miss her for the rest of my life.

    • Amy Shojai

      Thank you for posting–I remembered you had worked together but had forgotten it was at the AKC Gazette. She touched so many of us in the writing world, people and pets alike.

  5. Kim Thornton

    Such a loss. Marion and I were colleagues for a time, she at the AKC Gazette and I at Dog Fancy. I always admired her and was delighted to have her write a column, Raisin’ Nell, for DF after she left the Gazette. It was one of the things I most looked forward to every month. And I still remember the great speech she gave at the DWAA dinner one year; it has remained my favorite talk about the writing and editing game. I interviewed Marion for my book “Careers With Dogs” and she gave such insightful comments about the qualities an editor needs. I will miss her so much.

    • Amy Shojai

      I have a copy of your “Careers With Dogs” and will have to re-read those passages, Kim. And I love the title of her column, “Raisin’ Nell.” That makes me smile.

  6. Darlene Arden

    The news of Marion’s death came as such a shock that I had to read the post three times before it began to sink in. How could this be?! I first met Marion when she was the Editor-in-Chief of the AKC Gazette. Back then, her beloved Yorkie (if memory serves, his name was Sir Loin) sat on her desk in her office while she worked. It was Marion who wrote the Yorkshire Terrier book in a series, “Your Happy, Healthy Yorkshire Terrier.” I had the honor of moderating panels she was on in the early days of CWA. I would see her during Wesminster Week, of course. We were both active with DWAA at that time, both past Board Members. I remember talking with her, occasionally e-mailed and, yes, I laughed too when I first saw Retired Person under her name. She was an excellent writer, editor, human being. She truly loved dogs and cats. There are a lot of us, two-legged and four-legged, who are much poorer now without Marion in our lives. May her name be for a blessing….

    • Amy Shojai

      Darlene, I didn’t realize she’d written the Yorkie book! That makes me wonder how many more wonderful things Marion accomplished that she didn’t “shout” about.

      • Darlene Arden

        That’s one of the things I truly admired about Marion – she didn’t “blow her own horn.” She just did her work and did it extraordinarily well. Her work spoke for itself. I don’t know how many other books she wrote but as another Yorkie person I vividly remember that one.

  7. Barbara Florio Graham

    I first met Marion at one of the CWA conferences in Houston. She was gracious and welcoming, and we kept in touch after that via email. I loved that she identified herself as a “retired person” but she was so much more than that: a friend, a gentle critic, someone who was always encouraging and supportive. We’ll all miss her!

    • Amy Shojai

      Hi Bobbi, I knew Marion during some “ify” times in the pet writing world, too, and as others have said, she didn’t shy from expressing what she felt was right. She always seemed eager to give the benefit of the doubt and be supportive but neither was she a shrinking violet.

  8. Susan Easterly

    Amy, a beautiful tribute to Marion! You expressed what I was feeling…Thank you.

  9. Louise Holton

    Thank you Amy for this lovely tribute to Marion. She was always very kind to me and made kind and generous comments on my work for feral cats.
    I too was shocked and saddened to hear of her passing.
    RIP Marion, friend to humans and animals.

  10. Dominique

    Thank you for the lovely blog post, Amy, and for the space it has provided for all of us to share our memories of Marion. When I interviewed for a job as an Assistant Editor at the AKC Gazette in the late ’80s, it amazed me that it was possible to make a career out of writing about dogs. How fabulous! Marion was the embodiment of all that was possible with that – the wonder; the joy; the irony; the need to be always asking more, going deeper; the commitment to honesty – and compassion. Marion was a mentor who I always held in the very highest regard. Her writing never ceased to astound me. It found and revealed truths that could only shine as a result of her making herself vulnerable and having the courage to share. What a gift, what a gift. With a heavy heart for her loss, I hope that I can take her essence all the more seriously and create a writer, a person, and an animal guardian that she would be proud of. Shockingly gone, Marion, but NEVER forgotten!!! I know your animal friends are kissing you all over in the special place where you are with them.

    • Amy Shojai

      Thanks Dominique. I’m sure Marion would be very proud of all the wonderful accomplishments of the writers she mentored.

  11. Patricia H.

    Even though I am not a writer, I am a devout reader and follower of this blog and this brought me to tears. Thank you Amy for this beautiful tribute to your beautiful friend and champion for the pet world. After reading what everyone has said above, this precious lady has touched so many lives and animals. All of you have been so blessed to have known her. My prayers and condolences to her family and all of her friends and it is true, life is short – always let those closest to you (family, friends) know how much you love them and what they mean to you. We are not guaranteed tomorrow.

    • Amy Shojai

      Thank you so much Patricia. I have another dear friend, a writing mentor, who has been very ill in the hospital, and unable to see visitors…and then got a lovely note from her husband that she’d improved enough she CAN see visitors! Prayers work! Going to see her today after church.

  12. Patricia H.

    Hope you found your writing mentor who is a dear friend doing so much better today! Each of you blessed one another today! Best wishes for good health to her.

    • Amy Shojai

      Thanks Patricia. It was good to see her. She’s supposed to go to a rehab facility today.

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