Born in Detroit, Michigan on December 21st, 1924

Departed on May 1st, 2020 and resided in Highlands Ranch, Colorado

    Marjorie “Marnie” was a deeply loving woman of Christian faith with unwavering dedication to her family and the values she graciously lived by for 95 years. She had a remarkable gift for language and poetry, a beautiful soprano singing voice and a passionate love of reading and intellectual pursuits which continued to the end of her days.

    Born Marjorie Collette Little on December 21, 1924 in Detroit, Michigan to Edwin Robert Little and Eleanor Thresher Colby Little, she and older siblings, Ellen Colby Little and Robert Colby Little lived in Grosse Pointe, Michigan. She was a graduate of Grosse Pointe High School, and received her Bachelor of Arts degree in English literature from Denison University, Granville, Ohio, in 1949. During her senior year of college she was awarded the MacNeil Prize for poetry. Over the next two years, she studied vocal music at the Detroit Conservatory of Music.

    During WWII, Marnie volunteered for two years as a hostess with a local USO-style social canteen for Australian-New Zealand-British Commonwealth servicemen stationed in Windsor, Ontario. She received a commendation from the government of New Zealand for her wartime service at the ANZAC club.

    Marnie married Charles “Charlie” Robert Oakman on April 21, 1951. Charlie attended the University of Michigan and graduated from Wayne University in Detroit. He then trained as a CPA, establishing his own tax accounting practice. Marnie and Charlie lived in Grosse Pointe Farms, where they lovingly raised two daughters and celebrated more than 55 years of marriage.

    A member of the Grosse Pointe Memorial Church for more than 69 years, Marnie sang in the Chancel Choir and then church choir for 25 years. As a volunteer, she was trained by a professional conservator and took over the restoration of a 16th century tapestry which had been given to the church. This required five years of effort, but resulted in the beautiful tapestry being preserved to hang on display to this day.

    Marnie was an honorary lifetime member of the American Association of University Women after fifty years of active membership. She was very involved in the local branch writers group and other study groups such as folk guitar, and frequently chaired and always worked on the annual book sale to raise scholarship funds for women. She was the assistant editor of MOBIUS, The Poetry Magazine, and did theme reading for Cass Technical High School honors English classes.

    Marnie and five generations of her family enjoyed vacationing in the Les Cheneaux Islands of northern Michigan where she and Charlie met. They traveled and cruised together to Alaska, Hawaii, and through the Panama Canal. Charlie and Marnie were members of the Marine Historical Society of Detroit for more than 25 years, sharing an interest in Great Lakes ships. They could frequently be found escaping to the Grosse Pointe Farms Pier Park on Lake St. Clair or up to Port Huron for a day of boat watching and relaxing by the water.

    In 2007, Marnie moved to the newly opened Wind Crest retirement community in Highlands Ranch, Colorado. She is considered a “pioneer” (one of the original residents) and was active in founding the Wind Crest Chorale. She was a dedicated member of the writers group and re-discovered her enjoyment of oil painting with the art group. Marnie made many new friends, played Scrabble, and always did daily crossword puzzles.

    She is survived by her daughters Ellen (Richard) Gillette of Owings Mills, Maryland and Mariel “Mimi” (Joseph) Dickinson of Centennial, Colorado; grandchildren Rebecca (Max) Brondfield of San Francisco, California; Aaron Gillette of Chicago, Illinois; John Dickinson of Boulder, Colorado; and William Dickinson, Lone Tree, Colorado; sister-in-law Patricia Oakman Ashbrook of Camarillo, California; and eight nieces and nephews as well as many friends.

    A memorial service will be held at a later date at Grosse Pointe Memorial Church. Interment will be next to the love of her life, her husband Charlie, at Roseland Park Cemetery in Berkley, Michigan.

    Memorial contributions may be made to Grosse Pointe Memorial Church, 16 Lakeshore Drive, Grosse Pointe Farms, Michigan 48236.

    Guestbook Entries

    Richard Probert

    Marnie will be missed by all who knew her. For me she was more than just an aunt, she was also a friend.

    May 10th, 2020 at 1:26pm
    Peter Nyboer

    It was always a pleasure to visit with Marnie.  She was hospitable and ready with a cheerful welcome to everyone.  Exchanging stories, memories and expressing views with kindness of thought were engaging traits of her personality.  The joy of life she shared will live on with those that knew and loved her.

    May 10th, 2020 at 6:14pm
    Martin Guilfoyle

    Even though it’s been many years, I have fond memories of Marnie from the visit I paid as a college student to their home in Michigan in the early 1980s. She lead a full and rewarding life, and she and Charlie were blessed with two wonderful daughters and a gaggle of grand kids. She will be missed.

    May 11th, 2020 at 3:56pm
    Nancy and David Netz

    Marnie was gracious and kind to all. She greatly enjoyed connecting with others through shared stories and conversation. She expressed great eloquence and humility, and she will be greatly missed by all thise who knew her. 

    May 11th, 2020 at 8:11pm
    Edie Collins

    Marnie was a dear friend here at Wind Crest. She was the poet of our Wind Crest Writers – and I often sat next to her . We all loved to hear what she had written. In our Sunday worship we were always happy to see her – she helped us sing the hymns with her clear sweet voice. And I have enjoyed getting acquainted with her daughters . What a lovely role model she has been for many of us.

    May 12th, 2020 at 2:04pm

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