Your Neighbor: Meet Susie Marion

Published 12:05 am Thursday, December 23, 2021

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By Mandy Haggerson
For the Clemmons Courier

Susie Marion spent her childhood living in Greensboro as the youngest of two siblings. “Growing up, I was fortunate because I was able to play outside with friends and neighbors all the time. We were active, always riding bikes or climbing trees. I developed an early love for sports, both watching them and playing them thanks to my parents,” recalls Marion. She also learned at the age of 7 she wanted to be a teacher. “It was probably around my elementary years that I knew I wanted to be an educator. My mom put a desk for me outside on our front lawn and the neighborhood kids would come to my ‘school.’ I had an attendance book and lesson plans, and the parents loved it because their kids were entertained for hours,” laughs Marion.

It came as no surprise to Marion’s parents that she headed to Appalachian State University to study education. “I never had any doubt in my mind,” says Marion of her decision. After graduating from ASU, Marion taught in Caldwell County in 1972 until she moved to Clemmons in 1979. Marion had just had her first child, Kristin, and began teaching at Clemmons Elementary School at their previous location (now the Historic Broyhill Office Suites). “Clemmons Elementary looped the children so we would have them for two years. After having them for their first-grade year, it was incredible to get them again in second grade and pick up right where we left off. Martha Trader was the primary reading teacher with me for 16 years and we shared the same mission and theme for teaching. We wanted the kids to know wherever they came from and whatever their background was that together we were family. We supported each other to become one. Martha and I felt strongly in encouraging our kids to find weekly success in others and to acknowledge their accomplishments. Every child is successful in something,” notes Marion.

Marion was passionate about combining her love of learning with giving back to her community with the students. “For many Thanksgivings we would collect change in our classroom. After our fundraising drive ended, with the help of our amazing grade parents’ generosity, we would walk to the local Lowes Foods to shop for families in need. We made boxes for those families of food with the funds the children raised. They got to experience a math lesson, the joy of helping, and the importance of giving back to people,” remembers Marion.

While teaching at Clemmons Elementary, Marion welcomed her second child, Ben, in 1981. “I took off 6 weeks when my children were born,” recalls Marion. “It was incredible to know that kind of love with having Kristin and Ben. Your world changes.” Marion’s children remember fondly how hard they worked to give them a childhood that encompassed the values she experienced as a child with the importance of family and a sense of community. “I’ve always respected how my mom shows up for people,” says daughter Kristin. “She is the first to send a card or bring a meal. By nature, she is a giver and a helper. And as a mom, we always loved how she baked our birthday cakes and made our holidays special. Our door was always open to our friends and she made sure everyone felt welcome. She never missed our practices, game, meet or match even if it was out of town. She sacrificed everything for us. One of the greatest lessons she taught me was to be fully present, which she was for us.”

Marion now has grown children and has retired after 32 years from teaching. “I have become a Mimi with my grandson, Jordan, who was born in 2011. He is my heart, and I can’t even describe the love and connection I feel for him. He’s simply our life,” says an adoring Marion. “He’s getting to the age where he has lots of activities which is fun to see. He’s very interested in science and sports, and I love watching his passions develop.”

When Marion isn’t devoting her time to family, she is likely at a Wake Forest sporting event. “We grew up embracing the local team and never missed a game. We even took a bus one time for 19 hours with some of our good friends to a bowl game. That was quite an adventure but it’s fun to root for the home team with close friends,” recalls Marion.

Marion’s friendships have been very important to her and continue to be. “Many of my friendships have spanned over 40 years and I treasure them. I feel very blessed and lucky. Whether we attend a sporting event or we are participating in a community event it makes life feel richer,” says Marion. She has been very active in the Clemmons Methodist Church since 1982. Although incredibly humble, Marion has been a part of three different groups that give back to our community. “I am a very small piece of the puzzle of giving, but I love working together with these incredible people to help others,” notes Marion. Some of the projects Marion is involved in include her sisters in Christ Bible study that works with a local school to provide a lunch for their citizens of the month program. The program recognizes children monthly for going above and beyond to help others and be leaders in their school with a pizza party and fanfare.

Within Clemmons Methodist Church, Marion also participates in a fellowship Sunday school class that adopts children at Christmas time to provide presents. They have also chosen to support the SECU house with providing snacks needed for families staying there while their loved one is getting medical care. “If there is a family that can’t afford the $40 nightly cost to stay at SECU house, our group has raised funds to make that possible for them,” notes Marion.

Marion’s third group at church, the Joy Circle, focuses on adopting families at Christmas time as well that do not have the resources to provide presents for their children. “We also like to help ensure kids are able to go to camps if they are unable to,” says Marion “When you surround yourself with people who want to ‘do’ it’s so inspiring. I’m in awe of all the people that want to do for others. It’s a no brainer to be a part of it.”

A family that has really inspired Marion in our community is the Paul family. Marion attended Chris Paul’s NBA draft in 2005. “The very first year that Chris was drafted the Chris Paul Foundation was started,” explains Marion. His parents, Robin and Charles are the humblest people that I have met. They have really influenced me with both the reason and the mission. “The first year that the Chris Paul Foundation began, we met at the Lewisville Civic Center and packed boxes for 10 different families that needed a Thanksgiving meal. The following year, we had to meet at a church because we increased the amount to 25 families. This past Thanksgiving, there were 175 families impacted with meals for the holiday. It has just taken off tremendously,” notes Marion. “After the meals have been packed, the Pauls pray over the food. One of the prayers Charles said resonated with me for years. Charles said that our job was not to judge anyone that needed our help, however, our job was to provide for them. I loved that and I have never forgotten it.”

Marion has enjoyed seeing the good will from the Chris Paul Foundation in other areas in our community. “At Christmas time, they provide $100 gift cards to 100 kids who are in need. Previously, it would take place at Toys ‘R’ Us, however now that it’s out of business it occurs at Target. COVID-19 has impacted how the presents are given out, now the kids make a list, and the volunteers help shop for them and pick up the items. Although it’s changed because of the pandemic, the spirit of it is still immensely felt, and I love seeing the impact.”

During the holiday season, Marion continues to be inspired by George Barnard Shaw’s words that encapsulate giving towards others. “I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the community, and as long as I live, it is my privilege to do whatever I can. I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work, the more I live. Life is no ‘brief candle’ to me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for a moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly possible before handing it on to the future generations.”