PAUL MARION, 1922-2013

Organist, choir leader also in Navy in World War II


Paul Marion, 90, who brought together music and worship as a church choirmaster and organist, died Wednesday in Hospice of Northwest Ohio, South Detroit Avenue.

He learned on Feb. 1 that he had leukemia, his daughter Margot said.

Mr. Mari-on retired in June, 2011, from St. Michael’s in the Hills Episcopal Church in Ottawa Hills. He was a parishioner in the late 1970s when he was asked to be substitute organist until a replacement could be hired. None was until Mr. Marion retired.

“He carried in his heart the story of our parish. He brought a great perspective to us,” said the Rev. Gregory Sammons, co-rector of St. Michael’s for the last 20 years along with his wife, the Rev. Margaret Holt Sammons.

Mr. Marion and his wife, Kay, had leading roles in the 1992 installation of the church’s pipe organ, which has been named the “Kay and Paul Marion Organ,” Father Sammons said.

“He was just a wonderful colleague,” Father Sammons said.

“He was warm. He was attentive to the details of the relationships with people and cared deeply about all the members of his choir.

“For him, music was important. The method, the process was about building community,” Father Sammons said.

“And that’s how he thought of the choir, as the heart of a larger community and treated every choir member of all different kinds of talents and skills with great respect, and it was really returned.”

Mr. Marion aimed for the service to be an artistic whole, Sunday after Sunday.

“He really loved the church year, the festivals that come and go, and loved trying to match a hymn and his preludes to the sermon and to the time of the year and to the Gospel readings,” his daughter said. “There was a deep inner joy in trying to make the service as integrated as possible.”

Earlier, he had music leadership positions with Hampton Park Christian Church and Christ Presbyterian Church.

Mr. Marion, a resident of West Toledo, also was a State Farm insurance agent for much of his church music career, with an office in the Ottawa Hills Shopping Center.

He retired at age 82.

Until his illness, he was a member of the Masterworks Chorale, in which he sang bass.

He was born Sept. 18, 1922, in Neosho, Mo., and grew up in Little Rock. He learned to sing at the Southern Baptist church his family attended. Piano lessons started at age 8; organ lessons as a teenager. His high school band director recruited him as a percussionist.

He enlisted in the Navy during World War II and served stateside in Navy ensembles.

Afterward, on the GI Bill, he went to the University of Illinois and in 1950 received a bachelor’s degree in music.

In 1952, Mr. Marion received a master’s degree in sacred choral music from Union Theological Seminary in New York City.

He could sight read, and he could improvise. Mr. Marion appreciated a wide range of musical styles from across the centuries.

“He was a musician’s musician,” his daughter said.

Surviving are his wife, Kay, whom he married Nov. 1, 1944; daughter, Margot Amrine; son, Marc Marion; sister, Helen Jarman, and three grandchildren.

Memorial services will be at 11 a.m. Tuesday in St. Michael’s in the Hills.

The family suggests tributes to the music fund at St. Michael’s; the Toledo Museum of Art, or St. Paul’s Community Center.

Contact Mark Zaborney at: or 419-724-6182.