Marilyn Patricia McArthur passed away peacefully in her home in Santa Paula, California, on October 21. Born to Marie Kienzle and Douglass Lawder on November 14, 1929, Marilyn grew up in San Francisco, attending St. Cecilia's parish school and the Convent of the Sacred Heart High School. She attended San Francisco College for Women and met her future husband, Ronald P. McArthur, in a study group. They married after her graduation in 1950, spending their honeymoon driving across country to Quebec, Canada, where Ron earned his Ph.D. at Laval University. They returned to San Francisco in 1952 and built a house in Orinda in 1959, when Ron began teaching at St. Mary's College. It was at St. Mary's that the idea was formed to found Thomas Aquinas College, where people would read the greatest books of Western civilization in the light of the Catholic Faith.
Marilyn and Ron said farewell to their beloved Bay Area when it was decided to open the new College in Southern California. She made their new home in Westlake Village. Ron became the College's first president, and Marilyn became its servant-mother both at the first campus in Calabasas, and then at the permanent campus in Santa Paula. She performed tasks from sewing curtains for dormitories, to feasting students staying on campus during holidays, to hosting fundraisers which helped make for the College many of its institutional friends. Marilyn welcomed students into her home for evening readings and convivial gatherings, generously housed various students from time-to-time, always providing and rising to the occasion as she fully lent herself to the College in which she, with her husband, so much believed.
When Ron retired from the presidency and from teaching in 1991, they moved to a small ranch in Northern California with their six horses, where Marilyn again opened her doors to study groups from the local parish, and with Cathy Walsh (TAC '80, who stayed with them the rest of their lives) helped plan menus and cook and serve for the parish soup kitchen. They all enjoyed horseback riding and hiking in their beloved Sierra Nevada mountains. Ron's decision to resume teaching brought the household back to Santa Paula in 2002 where Marilyn set up their final home, supporting Ron who taught at the College until his last illness in 2012. Marilyn cared for him until his death in 2013.
Marilyn remained in Santa Paula, where she attended daily Mass at the College, made weekly meal deliveries to seniors, and faithfully prayed the Rosary at the abortion clinic every Wednesday, until ill health slowed her down. Marilyn prayed the Rosary daily, and every Sunday, after Ron's death, prayed it at his graveside with friends. Her Catholic Faith was her most cherished possession. She is preceded in death by her parents, her husband Ron, her sister Rosemarie, and her brother-in-law, John Spillane. She is survived by six nieces and nephews and a host of loving Thomas Aquinas College Alumni.
Donations can be made in her name to The McArthur/Newman Scholarship Fund at Thomas Aquinas College, 10000 Ojai Rd, Santa Paula, CA 93060.