Sally Marble had a smile for everyone and was known for her positive outlook on life and passion for being a mother.

Marble, 69, died June 4, after 18 months of treatment for colon cancer. Her husband, Max Marble, said the way she dealt with cancer reflects how she lived her life and the kind of person she was.

“Through it all, she lived life just as fully as you can,” he said. “When people would come and visit, they expected to see a sick person, and they went away kind of thinking there’s nothing wrong with her. That’s just ’cause how she presented life.”

Although his wife was dealing with a lot of pain toward the end of her life, Max said the doctors and nurses who entered her room would always acknowledge Sally’s constant smile.

“She had a smile for everyone, and that was kind of her outlook on life,” he said.

During Monday’s memorial service, Fred Leist, pastor of Missouri United Methodist Church, said Sally taught him “a faithful way to live and die as a follower of Jesus.”

Leist said he never heard Sally complain.

“She never made any of this about her or what she was going through,” Leist said. “She didn’t dwell unnecessarily on the pain or difficulties that accompanied her much of the time or recent days. Instead, she maintained the same quiet, unyielding confident trust that God would be with her.”

Sally’s family said her main mission in life was to be a mother and raise a family. She is survived by Max, her husband of 48 years; her two children, Andy and Laura; her grandchildren, Emma and Neill; and her mother, Betty.

She graduated college with an education degree during the height of the women’s liberation movement, a time in which Max said being a stay-at-home mother was not valued as much as pursuing a graduate degree or career.

The couple graduated from Central Methodist College in Fayette, and Sally was at the top of her class. Her husband said she was intelligent and driven. He said she could have easily pursued a Ph.D. because she “had the brain and the aptitude to do that kind of thing,” but she wanted to raise a family.

“She chose that,” Laura Marble said. “What she chose was to give all of her creativity and intelligence to doing an exceptional job of being a mother.”

Laura said her mom always instilled a sense of independence in her children.

“One time, she told me, ‘Don’t let anybody tell you what you should do with your brain; you do what you want with your brain,’ and that’s what she did,” Laura said. “She decided what she wanted, and she did that thing, whether or not it was the popular thing.”

When Laura was 13, her mom told her she was “retiring from motherhood,” which meant she was pleased with the way she raised her daughter and looked forward to being her friend.

Max said Sally had a philosophy that parents only have 12 years to raise a child. Max said she believed that was enough time to teach a child “all the values they need to make wise decisions and take care of themselves.”

“It meant that I had a tremendous amount of respect and autonomy from her,” Laura said.

Max and Sally devoted much of their lives to missionary work. The team, as Max described them, traveled the world serving congregations and extension ministries.

Max was appointed director of the Office of Creative Ministries for the United Methodist Church in Columbia. He said Sally often taught Sunday school and went on mission trips with the church. She loved traveling the world, experiencing different cultures and learning about people.

Dora Thackery said she has worked with Max for several years. She said Max and Sally were always together.

“If you saw one, you saw the other,” Thackery said.

On the last day Sally was awake, she suggested the family go to Stephens Lake Park, where they could walk around and reminisce. Max said by then she had stopped eating but told the family she wanted to get lunch at Flat Branch Pub & Brewing because it was somewhere Max loved to go.

Sally was the kind of person who was determined to make every situation better.

“She always had a smile, and people remarked about that all the time,” Max said. “I wouldn’t say she ever fought cancer. She lived as fully as can be with it.”

Supervising editor is Marcelle Peters.

  • Student news reporter for the Columbia Missourian

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