Marion Morris Mauk, a World War II-era journalist who, after her children were enrolled in school, began a freelance career that saw her writing on a wide variety of subjects, from black studies to a Seattle-area movie chain, died March 8 at her home in Mount Washington. She was 94.
"Writing was a passion for her," said her son, Frederick Henry Mauk Jr., associate dean for graduate studies at Goucher College in Towson. "She loved writing on political topics. She also had a good hand at humor. … She loved interviewing people."
While Mr. Mauk said his mother was especially proud of a piece she wrote for Mademoiselle magazine in 1969, about the burgeoning black studies movement, she enjoyed writing humorous pieces as well, often drawing on the experiences of her family. Once, when the pipes burst in his new home and he had to spend thousands of dollars for repairs, a piece his mother wrote helped ease the pain a little, her son said. And a piece about his family's pet boa constrictor, Agatha, helped people "feel rather warmly toward" the domesticated reptile, he said.
"She was a bright woman, really a fearless woman," Mr. Mauk said. "I remember going to a political rally with her once, and her shaming a rather loud, obnoxious man by offering the truth, quietly."
The former Marion Morris was born in 1920 in Malone, N.Y., a small town in the northeast corner of the state, near the Canadian border; she grew up in Ogdensburg, about 70 miles to the west. She graduated second in her high school class and won a four-year scholarship to St. Lawrence University, where she studied English. Her classmates included a boy named Izzy Demsky, who would later take up acting and change his name to Kirk Douglas.
Ms. Mauk worked as a journalist during World War II, first at the Watertown (N.Y.) Daily Times, later at the Providence Journal in Rhode Island. Initially confined to covering news from women's social clubs, according to her daughter, Pamela Anne Mauk, of Sammamish, Wash., she eventually expanded her beats to include obituaries, hard news and features.
She "was able to find work as a journalist, pioneering women at local daily papers," Pamela Mauk said of her mother.
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Following the Japanese surrender in 1945, Ms. Mauk went to work for the Red Cross, helping to organize and operate canteens where servicemen could relax. During an extended train ride, she met Fritz Mauk, who was serving as the Army's liaison to one of the canteens. They fell in love and were married in Yokohama in November 1946.
The Mauks lived in Japan, California, Ogdensburg and Chicago before settling in Southern California. They lived first in Lakewood and then, in 1959, moved to Long Beach, where Mr. Mauk worked as a marine clerk until retiring in 1990. They moved to Baltimore in 2002, to live with their son.
The Mauks enjoyed traveling, and Ms. Mauk would often integrate her travels into her writing. A trip to California's Mount Shasta, for example, led to a piece about people's religious beliefs concerning the mountain, her daughter remembered. And a visit to Seattle produced a story on a chain of independent movie theaters there, the Seven Gables, and its founder, Randy Finley.
Mrs. Mauk was a member of the League of Women Voters in both California and Maryland, and for years was active in the World Federalist Movement. She was also an active Unitarian Universalist, often attending services at the First Unitarian Church of Baltimore and hosting meetings in her home of its monthly book club. She was also a big fan of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.
In addition to her husband of 67 years and their two children, Mrs. Mauk is survived by a younger son, Barry Hulett Mauk, of Laurel, and a brother, Harold Edwin (Hike) Morris, of Ogdensburg. She is also survived by four grandchildren.
The Family is planning an at-home memorial service for sometime next month.