Marilyn Duer, horsewoman and longtime Committee member and friend of Dressage at Devon passed away Wednesday, June 17, 2015 at the University of Pennsylvania Hospital.
“It is difficult to explain the great sadness that we feel at Dressage at Devon. For almost two decades, Marilyn has been an important part of our show. We will, of course, remember her always for her great work as the head of hospitality but more important as a kind and wonderful friend,” said Lori Kaminski, President and CEO of Dressage at Devon.” Marilyn was a lifelong horsewoman and animal lover.
She started her equestrian life as a hunter/jumper rider but credits Hilda Gurney for her interest in dressage. The story is, according to Melanie Sloyer, friend and co-committee member at Dressage at Devon, that sometime in the mid-seventies, a friend suggested that Marilyn accompany her to Gladstone. Marilyn went and was not all that impressed until she saw Hilda. Marilyn said her jaw dropped to the floor. Years later, Dr. John Donahue whom she knew from her work at Pottstown Memorial Hospital, suggested that she call Jeanne McDonald, USEF & FEI Dressage judge and trainer, instructor, and breeding manager at Turning Point Farm. She brought her thoroughbred to Turning Point and her love of dressage became a passion.
One of the stories that she loved to tell at the show was the time she was taking a lesson from Jeanne and was doing her best extended trot ever! But she pulled up. When Jeanne asked what was wrong, she said “I think I’m having a heart attack.” She was right. And she was fine. But through the years she would say, laughing, that it was the result of the lesson!
Marilyn retired from Pottstown Memorial in 2000. Again, a friend took her to a Committee meeting and, with her new found free time, another chapter in Marilyn’s life. “Marilyn did everything,” said Melanie Sloyer. “And she did it all with a love for the show and the people involved. I remember the first year I met Marilyn. She was there from when the sun came up until after the show was over – and was always smiling. She was a fireball with the most amazing volunteer spirit. There was nothing she couldn’t – or wouldn’t do.”
Many people know Marilyn as the Hospitality Queen of Devon. “Her ability to discern the details that are the key to success was translated to her passion for making DAD a continuing success. She sweated the small stuff to ensure all who attended DAD experienced only the best of the show,” said Robbie Kankus, DAD Board Member. One of the things people remember most is Marilyn’s love for her family, her friends and her animals. Marilyn will also be remembered for her cooking and her sharing. Jewish Apple Cake was one of her specialties. She cooked for everyone. People were welcomed at any time of the day or night at her home, and Marilyn would always whip up a meal from a stocked freezer. So her role as head of hospitality at DAD was a natural.
“I don't think I truly knew what Marilyn meant to DAD until I went to the World Cup with her,” added Kankus. “Marilyn was a true ambassador for DAD. No matter where we went - the competition venue or the hotel- there was always a DAD official, judge, competitor, vendor or spectator that greeted Marilyn with respect and friendship.”
“Marilyn was known as everybody’s mother. From her co-workers at dressage to the judges, people knew they could count on her – for anything they might need. She worked hard to make sure everything was right for everyone,” said Jeanne. “This is a huge loss for Dressage at Devon.”
Memorial donations in Marilyn's memory would be appreciated to: Large Animal Protection Society, http://largeanimalprotectionsociety.org/_LAPS/ - P.O. Box 243 ~ West Grove, Pennsylvania 19390.