Marshelline P. Purl

July 14, 1923July 19, 2013
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Marshelline Patton Purl, wife of Raymond C.A. Purl, passed on peacefully in her home on Friday, July 19th, surrounded by her family. Marshelline hailed from the small town of Harrisville, West Virginia. Married young, she had a full, adventurous life, traveling the globe, and living much of her adult life in Asia. Affectionately known as “Marshie,” she began studying ballet at a tender age and in her teens danced with the Chicago Metropolitan Opera Dance Company. In her early twenties she sang and danced on Broadway before moving to Los Angeles where she was an aspiring film actress, successful model, and modeling teacher. When her husband was posted to Japan as part of General Douglas McArthur's staff, Marshelline found herself a young bride in Tokyo. In 1946, at the invitation of Mrs. Jean McArthur, she co-founded The School for Western Customs and Manners which served Japanese women during the Occupation. Through the years, often in collaboration with Ray, a graduate of Yale Drama School, Marshie also starred in, and helped to produce, scores of plays, many for the venerable theatre group Tokyo International Players. She also co-starred in several films including the Golden Globe nominated The Walking Major, and the SciFi cult classic The Time Travelers. She co-founded the Tokyo Theatre for Children and, for 20 years, taught classical ballet to young girls in Tokyo. She also taught drama at Beaupre Arts Camp in Massachusetts. In Tokyo, Marshelline was also an active board member of the International Ladies Benevolent Society and chaired the Cherry Blossom Ball that annually raises funds for charity. In the United States, she was a life-long member of the Daughters of the American Revolution and a devoted member of the Colorado Springs Zebulon Pike Chapter. During their 20 years in Tokyo, 8 in Hong Kong, and 30 in Colorado Springs, the Purls were famous for the imaginative parties they hosted in their homes. As well as original "Cuisine Marshelline," the parties sparkled with theatrical and literary offerings. Marshelline Purl leaves a lasting legacy of grace, beauty, and generosity. During their golden retirement years, the Purls supported many local arts organizations including the Colorado College Music Festival and the Colorado Springs Dance Theatre, where Marshie served on the board. Marshie and Ray served for 7 years on the theatre steering committee of Theatreworks, the Fine Arts Center and actively supported the Colorado Festival of World Theatre, and the Colorado Springs Conservatory. One of the studios of the newly purchased Conservatory's permanent home has been named The Purl Dance Studio. Marshelline is survived by immediate family: her husband of 72 years Raymond Charles Arthur Purl, her daughters Mara Purl and Linda Purl, and grandson Lucius Cary. She is survived by extended family: son-in-law Dr. Larry Norfleet, step-grandchildren Amelia Norfleet Dorn and David F. Dorn of Denver Colorado; great-grandchildren Willa Dorn and Finley Dorn; step-grandson Matthew Norfleet of Raleigh, North Carolina and great-grandchildren Kensington Norfleet and Kamden Norfleet. Marshelline is also survived by her sister Madelon Pattton Zakaib of Waynesboro, Virginia; nephews Charles Lee Zakaib, Jr., Joseph Patton Zakaib, and Robert Lewis Zakaib, Sr.; and by great-nephew Charles Zakaib III and wife Gwyneth Dicky Zakaib; great-nephews Michael Zakaib, Zoe Lyn Zakaib, Robert Zakaib, Jr., and great-great-nephew Patrick Allen Zakaib; and cousin Gene Mergy and wife Jan, of San Diego, California. In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to The Colorado College Summer Music Festival, 14 E. Cache la Poudre, Colorado Springs, 80903. A private memorial will be held.


  • Memorial Service Saturday, August 31, 2013

Marshelline P. Purl

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Debbie Carter

June 22, 2015

Ray and Marshie are reunited in their ongoing journey together. Such good souls. And an honor to have known both. I miss your wonderful stories. My memories will keep you close.

June 21, 2015

To the Purl Family. I am so very sorry to hear of Marchie's passing - of which I just today learned. Marshie was a dear and valuale friend. SHE REMAINS IN MY PRAYERS. I couldnt possibly describe what these two wonderful people meant to me over the years.

Dr Warren W (Bud) Williamsd

Gary Gunderson

June 14, 2015

Dear Linda,
I am so sorry to hear about your mother's passing. Please give my condolences to Ray. We met at your parents' home in Tokyo during the mid '70s. I was a newscaster at FEN and acted in a few TIP plays your father directed. It was a fun and interesting time. Your parents were always the most gracious hosts.

Jean Borden

August 26, 2013

Mara, I was very honored to meet your lovely mother at a book sighning of yours at the library. I am so sorry for your loss.

Eileen Burns

August 19, 2013

Dear Linda,
I am so sorry to hear of your mother's passing. She was lovely, gentle and kind. My condolences to you and your family.
Sincerely, Eileen Burns, Finch College

August 2, 2013

So sad to see Marshie go. Ray, Mara, Linda and families our hearts go out to all of you in your loss. She was a very lovely lady.
Bill and Marcia Bradley

July 29, 2013

To the Purl family my deepest sympathies. Marshelline was a lovely, gracious, and outstanding lady. Zebulon Pike Chapter members loved her and will miss her.
Penny Fischer
Zebulon Pike Chapter, NSDAR, Honorary Chapter Regent

Joseph Zakaib

July 29, 2013

Aunt Marshie will be missed by all who knew her. She was such a loving, compassionate and giving person. My sympathies and prayers for my Uncle Ray and 1st cousins, Mara and Linda and families.

July 29, 2013

I am so sorry for your loss, Ray, Linda, and Mara. Marshie was a lovely and talented woman, and will be missed very much in our city. Our thoughts and prayers are with you. Carolyn Barber

Karen E. Penley

July 28, 2013

Dear Ray and Purl family members, We are so saddened by the death of Marshelline. She was a very special lady and loved by all. As a long time member of the Zebulon Pike Chapter, NSDAR, she will be missed.
Karen E. Penley, Regent.