Marie Roth Henderson went to Heaven on December 29, 2020. She was born on August 6, 1966 to Jim and Carolyn Cushman Roth in Beech Grove Indiana. She met David Henderson before she had cancer. He was always there for her even when the cancer diagnosis came. They were married on March 30, 2013, a year after her diagnosis. The date chosen was between her chemo treatments. Marie has three aunts, Mary Owens, Kathy (David) Falkner, and her deceased aunt Barbara Vickers. She has one uncle, Ken Cushman, and one great-uncle, Larry Cushman. She has eight cousins. She had another “aunt” Dru McFerren, who was part of her family and was always there for her until Dru’s death. Marie embraced David’s family, including his now deceased father, Robert, his mother Lois Henderson, his son, Matthew Henderson, David’s sister Susan (Fred) Wix, and his brother Robert Henderson. Marie was a loving and caring person with an enormous interest and caring for so many people throughout her life. She was a close friend to so many.
She had a burning curiosity in a wide range of areas and she eagerly shared her learning with others. She was a teacher in every meaning of the word. Whether as a classroom teacher at Hershey or Dayton Elementary School, or as a elementary school assistant principal at Mayflower Mill, or principal at Glen Acres and Lebanon Central Elementary School, or as a mobile educator for NASA, she always had the desire to learn and share. Her commitment to her students, teachers and staff was recognized with many awards, including Lebanon Central Elementary School being named a National Blue Ribbon School.
She graduated from West Lafayette High School, and received her bachelors and master’s degree in education from Purdue University. She completed the Experiential Program for Preparing Schools Principals (EPPSP) program at Butler University. Marie had a wide active and growing network of friends, including astronauts, former students, classmates, coworkers, church friends, fellow educators, fellow artists, people she met along the way, cancer patients’ support groups, and her treatment team fighting cancer with her.
Marie was a talented artist, mostly in multi-media and abstract art. She turned to art as a way to heal her soul while fighting cancer. She showed her work in juried shows, and individually. She was a member of the Indiana Artist Club. She enjoyed talking with people at the various art shows, and served as President of the Art League. Visitation will be from 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm Sunday at Soller-Baker Lafayette Chapel, 400 Twyckenham Blvd. A private service will be held at St. John’s Episcopal Church, Fr. Bradley Pace officiating. Interment will be at Meadow View Cemetery in Lafayette.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Ovarian Cancer Research Fund Alliance OCRA, P.O. Box 32141, New York, NY 10087-2141, the Art League of the Art Museum of Greater Lafayette, 102 S 10th St, Lafayette, IN 47905, or the charity of your choice.
Marie loved to teach. As a pre-schooler she played school teacher to her friends, who have remained her friends. At that time, Romper Room School was on WLFI, just across the street from our apartment in Beau Jardin. She would recite the opening by heart. She did appear on the show for one week at age four. One of Marie’s favorite people was Mrs. Kelso, who taught her Sunday School class at St. John’s. Marie has made and kept in touch with many through out her life.
She is still friends with her fifth grade teach and until his death with the elementary school’s principal. Many have commented that Marie gathered friends wherever she went, and kept them. She loved to read and her dad took her to the library on Saturdays to get books.
In junior high, the high school music teacher asked her to help with the high school musicals. She helped construct sets and stage managed the plays for him. Marie also filled in for a Super Saturday class that his leaving left without a teacher. In high school, the new music teacher was not into musicals, but agreed to a musical if Marie would both stage manage and direct. She did so her classmates could participate in a play her senior year. In all, she was involved in 13 high school musicals, but only appeared once on stage for a very short time. She said Shakespear never made sense to her until she would say that Romeo enters stage right, etc. Then it made sense as a play on stage. Marie has many friends from her high school that kept in touch with her.
At Purdue, Marie blossomed when she transferred from business to education. She received her Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in education from Purdue.
It was during this time that she met the late Professor Gerald Krockover. Their passion for science education led to her lifetime friendship with the Krockover family. She often attended Seder or other various Jewish Holy Days at their house. And later David joined her in going there.
Marie did her student teaching at Hershey Elementary. She stayed on one year as a teacher. In her first class was the superintendent’s son. His his wife was the room mother. They had a great relationship. It was at Hershey that Marie first meet Janelle Uerkwitz. Marie taught her two sons.
Marie transferred to teach at Dayton Elementary School, where Janelle also taught. Their friendship grew.
One day the school principal came down and told Marie that NASA was on the line. NASA mobile education semitrailer that contained materials that teachers could copy and handouts, etc. She had asked the mobile educator about what she did.
Now NASA wanted Marie to do that for a year in 1991-2. Her job was to help educate teachers on how to teach science. She spent time at NASA Huntsville where she met so many wonderful dedicated people including astronauts, saw the space station model, etc. As a mobile educator drove a van and Virgil was her semi driver. The low point was when she drove into Los Angeles right when the Rodney King verdict was announced. There was so much smoke that all the hotel’s smoke detectors were going off. Dr. Krockover’s sister lived in a nearby ecure building, and offered that Marie could come there. She did. The next day they all flew out of Los Angeles.
But later, she would be back in Los Angeles. She NASA staff if the shuttle was at nearby Edward’s Air Force Base. He said he could not say. He said to dress in climbing clothes and he would pick her up in the morning. She was allowed in to see the shuttle, go up on the scaffolding, and touch the shuttle.
Marie would go talk with the sponsoring company manager where the semi was parked, teachers would come for materials and to learn more about teaching science. Marie was often interviewed on the local television news. She learned how to give reporters a good sound bite. Later in later in life, reporters knew that she would give them something that they could use.
When she returned to Dayton, she taught fifth grade again. With the help of Dr. Krockover and a research scientist in Utah, she taught genetics to fifth graders with fruit flies. The sessions were taped. Afterwards, Dr. Krockover and Marie presented that project in Brazil to an international science teachers’ group.
She completed the Experiential Program for Preparing Schools Principals (EPPSP) program at Butler University. The professor said that one student had five published journal articles. Marie was surprised that it was her until she remembered agreeing for a graduate student to interview her during her journey as a new teacher. Marie was very humble, and tried to get her Dad to not brag so much about her. She lost.
Marie spent a year as assistant principal at Mayflower Mill. She then became principal at Glen Acres. She has friends from both schools.
She was hired as Principal at Central Elementary School in Lebanon. Several have commented that she would each morning meet and greet every student when they came to school. She wandered in and out of classrooms, but told the teachers they were to keep going and not interrupt their teaching. She might see a student struggling and help them for a few minutes. One staff member noted that when Marie went to each classroom to talk to the children, that her talk changed to relate to the students’ grade level. Marie made many friends, with students, parents and staff. Many mentioned that Marie treated the superintendent and the janitor with the same respect.
Under her leadership, Central became a National Blue Ribbon School. She went to Washington DC with her special ed teacher to accept the award in November, 2011.
An MRI done for another reason before she went to DC had shown a mass. After her return, she saw Dr. Michael Callahan, who removed the tumor on December 23, 2011. It was ovarian cancer. Many Roth family members have the BRAC gene, including Marie.
This began her nine year journey with Dr. Callahan to fight the disease with David at her side. She and her dad talked many times during the drive to treatment. Marie had many ups and downs in this journey. She was friends with so many at the hospital. CT scans were often had a less than pleasant preparation. She had one tech who did all of her outpatient CT scans. She always gave him a silly joke to take home to his children. The chemo lab was always a safe harbor for her with her trusted chemo lab nurses.
Marie was reassured when one of her first chemo nurses would later be her Palliative care nurse helping with pain control. Marie was in a tremendous amount of pain. Heavy pain medications helped at times and not others. Fatigue and lack of stamina were also big problems for her.
She rarely let anyone know how much pain she was having. Marie kept being positive and taking the opportunities to be with family and friends. She continued her interest in various things. Shortly before her death, she went to Oklahoma to visit the “Pioneer Woman’s” ranch and stores with Janell Uerkwitz. They had been planning the trip for three years.
She was on various trial medicines. One trial was for a maintenance drug that they hoped to give her nine months before needing chemo again. She went over thirty months before needing chemo. She knew she must be on the drug. She looked up the drug and found that the president of the company was a Purdue graduate. So she wrote to thank her. They communicated for awhile. When the drug was approved, Marie was invited to speak in Boston to 400 employees about what the drug had meant to her. The company ran an ad campaign with one of her paintings as the background and a white silhouette of her head. The text was that the drug gave a woman time to find that she was an artist.
This was a reference to Marie’s return to art as a way to deal with her feelings as a cancer patient. Marie’s art was abstract and multi-media. Her work was accepted in juried shows and she was a member of Indiana Artists. She was also a member of an artist group who showed their work together.
During this time, David took a job in Lafayette and they moved to Mulberry. There were many trees in her backyard. She enjoyed the quiet and soothing views. She had an art studio in the house and enjoyed painting when she was able. She continued to do shows, and had mugs and note cards made of some of her paintings. She was involved in the art therapy cancer group meeting on Zoom. One of her last works, was a black on white painting symbolizing her journey with cancer.
She made many more friends along road as an artist. During her cancer journey, she served as President of the Art League. Living in Mulberry allowed her to spend much time with her grandfather, “Gramps” to whom she was very attached.
She had a close relationship with her friend, Rev. Patti Napier, who married them at the Carmel United Methodist Church. Rev. Patti and Marie spoke often by phone, if not in person for lunch.
She returned to St. John’s Episcopal Church. Marie and David found support there. Many of her friends from her Sunday School days are still there.
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