Mary Margaret Clark Marley, age 95, of Franklin, Tennessee, passed away May 3, 2022. She was born in Williamson County to the late Earl Burton and Mary Ethel McMillen Clark.
Mary Margaret’s full and colorful life defies brief summation. A few highlights illustrate the joy she found in a life truly well lived. A lifelong resident of and contributor to the Franklin community, Mary Margaret was born on December 14, 1926, on West Main Street in the home of midwife Susie Gentry. She graduated as salutatorian from Franklin High School in 1944. Her father was for a time employed to climb the WSM radio tower to replace the lightbulbs that alert aircraft to its presence. Her mother worked at McClure’s Fashions on Main Street, a well-known shop to those with roots in the town. During the secret construction of the atom bomb, Mary Margaret and her family relocated for a time to Oak Ridge, Tennessee so her father could work on electrical aspects of the project. Her sons note that she said she “hated” her time there, though they are confident she carried no grudge against the fine folks who called Oak Ridge home during the Second World War. In 1951, she married Ray “Kid” Marley, the famous and beloved Texas cowboy (and, later, the first horse-mounted patrolman for the Franklin Police) whom she met at the Franklin Rodeo. Together they had four children. Kid and Mary Margaret lived on ranches in South Dakota, Texas, and West Tennessee, but she always considered Franklin to be home. In addition to her roles as daughter, sister, wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, and friend, Mary Margaret held several professional jobs, including positions during a 20-year career in banking and, later, work for the Franklin City Water Department, from which she ultimately retired. As a sage member of her family observed, Mary Margaret was “raised on 4th Avenue, married in a house on 4th Avenue, and passed away in her home on 4th Avenue.” In a lovely coincidence, the City of Franklin less than two weeks ago voted to name 4th Avenue in honor of the late Tennessee Supreme Court Justice Cornelia Clark, who was Mary Margaret’s niece. To the end of her life, Mary Margaret was active in a broad range of hobbies and enthusiasms, which included Native-American culture, following news and politics, watching the occasional true-crime program, eating ice cream from McDonald’s, and attending football games to support her son, Mickey, a Tennessee High School Football Hall of Fame coach. She loved “The Golden Girls” as well as the comediennes Lucille Ball and Carol Burnett. Her sense of humor was sharp and delightful throughout her life, and never failed her or those around her. Her sons inherited it. Finally, her family notes that Mary Margaret took great pleasure in sweeping her back porch. She did this daily, and nearly until the day she passed. She did not consider it a burden. She liked doing it and seemed to take great comfort in this routine; we should all be so fortunate to find such satisfaction in the ordinary.
In addition to her parents, Mary Margaret is preceded in death by her brother, William Howard Clark, and her daughter in law, Elizabeth “Libby” Marley. Mary Margaret is survived by her four sons, William S. “Bill” Marley and wife Connie of Franklin, Joe B. Marley of Franklin, Mickey R. Marley and wife Lisa of Jackson, Tennessee, and Cody C. Marley, of Franklin; six grandchildren, Dr. Jane Katherine Heinold and husband Nick, Susannah C. Marley, Ray Paul Marley, Mary Elizabeth Marley Latham and husband Charlie, Jordan Marley, and Kristen Harrison and husband J.P; four great grandchildren, Jack, Eli and Charlie Harrison, and Lizzy Latham; and a niece, Cathy Clark Perry.
A funeral service will be held at 11:00 AM on Saturday, May 7, 2022, at the Williamson Memorial Funeral Home at 3009 Columbia Avenue, Franklin, Tennessee 37064. Jim Taylor will officiate. Members of her family will serve as pallbearers. Honorary pallbearers will be Earl Nichols and Kelly Judd, who did Mary Margaret’s hair and who were such close friends with Mary Margaret that her family wanted them to be noted here. Other honorary pallbearers will be some of her caregivers including Tammy Crabtree, Jan Walls, and Pat Mayberry. Though flowers are welcome, memorial donations may be made to Franklin High School Athletics and Band or the Heritage Church of Christ. Visitation will be 4:00 to 7:00 PM Friday and one hour prior to the Saturday service. Interment will follow at the Mt. Hope Cemetery on Mt. Hope Street in Franklin.
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WILLIAMSON MEMORIAL FUNERAL HOME & CREMATION SERVICES, 615-794-2289. www.williamsonmemorial.com