Marion J. Kawata, a former missionary who was active in Baltimore churches, died of cancer Friday at her home in Asbury Methodist Village in Gaithersburg. She was 81.
Born in Portland, Ore., Marion Sammis graduated from Oregon State College, now Oregon State University, in 1949. She married fellow student Kazuyoshi Kawata shortly after graduation, and studied for two years at Hartford Seminary in Hartford, Conn., in preparation for missionary work with the United Methodist Church.
In 1951, the couple was posted to India, where they spent six years. They then lived briefly in Berkeley, Calif., and returned to India in 1958.
In 1963, they moved to Baltimore, settling in Glenmont. Returning to India in 1965 and 1966, she volunteered at Brown Memorial Hospital of the Christian Medical College in Ludhiana.
Back in Baltimore, she became a consultant in preschool education at the nursery school at Loch Raven United Methodist Church, and, after she studied remedial reading at Towson University, taught in Baltimore County schools in the Sparrows Point area.
In the early 1980s, she worked as a secretary in the surgery department of Johns Hopkins Hospital, and then volunteered in the community liaison office in the American Embassy in Cairo, Egypt, for three years, until returning to Baltimore.
They moved to Gaithersburg in 1991.
She was a member of Loch Raven and Towson United Methodist churches, volunteering at both and helping to resettle refugees, and volunteered with the help line Contact Baltimore.
In Gaithersburg, she was a member of Grace United Methodist Church.
She was named a life member of the Women's Society in several churches in the United Methodist Church. In recent years, she volunteered in the soup kitchen at St. Martin's Roman Catholic Church in Gaithersburg.
At Asbury Methodist Village, she volunteered at the Wilson Health Care Center and organized a croquet program.
She was a member of several academic honor societies, including Phi Beta Kappa and Alpha Lambda Delta. She enjoyed square, folk and line dancing, and taught folk dancing to community groups.
Plans for a memorial service at Asbury Methodist Village have not been finalized.
In addition to her husband of 57 years, survivors include two sons, David G. Kawata of Laurel and Ray E. Kawata of Ellicott City; a daughter, Jean K. Kawata of Seattle, and three grandchildren.