Marcia Haynes’ dash is complete.
“The Dash” is the title of one of Marcia’s favorite poems. The poem explains that it is not the year of birth nor the year of death that tells the story of one’s life, but, rather, the dash in between those years.
But more than a simple “dash” between the dates of Marcia’s birth and the date of her death, there should be a miles-long string.
Shortly after I established Blue Water Woman magazine in 2011, Marcia Haynes called me. I didn’t know her, personally, but I had heard about her for years. She was legendary in the community.
When I answered the phone that day, Marcia introduced herself, but I could tell she figured I probably already knew who she was (who didn’t?). Marcia was not only well-known and revered in the Blue Water Area; she was known and a force to be reckoned with in historic preservation circles around the country.
In Michigan, she is best known for fighting to save and restore the iconic Round Island Lighthouse in the Straits of Mackinac. Before Marcia Haynes came along, it was on the verge of collapsing and falling into the lake. Today, it is one of the most photographed buildings in the state of Michigan.
But on that day in 2011, Marcia called to thank me for starting a publication that would focus on women in our community. She told me it was long overdue.
I was grateful and humbled by her phone call.
Over the years, Marcia continued to reach out to me, periodically. She occasionally suggested other women as potential story topics, or she called just to tell me she enjoyed the most recent issue of the magazine.
I learned from those phone calls. Note to self: reach out, quietly, to other women in the community and be a supportive cheerleader in very subtle ways. Just let them know you are thinking of them and that you support them. I have tried to do so, in my own way, in her honor.
In January 2020, I was thrilled when Marcia was named recipient of a Blue Water Woman of the Year award. That provided me with the opportunity to sit down and interview her about her life. She was then in her late 80s and she told me, right up front, that she was dying.
But Marcia didn’t have time to die. She was still busy. She was very involved in the Friends of the Pere Marquette Railroad Bridge, Inc., a local group trying to save from demolition the historically significant bascule bridge located on the Port Huron Yacht Club property.
Marcia knew I was a member of the yacht club and she occasionally reached out to me, via Facebook messenger, to share with me news about the bridge.
Or she just reached out to let me know she was thinking of me.
A couple of months ago, Marcia called me to ask about purchasing tickets to attend the upcoming Blue Water Woman of the Year Awards. She had asked a friend to take her. I told her I wouldn’t take her money, but I would love for her to come if she felt up to it.
Two days before the event, she called to tell me she wasn’t able to come; she just didn’t feel well enough. I dropped in to visit her the next day to tell her I was sorry that she didn’t feel well, but I’d be thinking of her at the event.
During that visit, Marcia told me that she still didn’t have time to die; she still had a lot to do. It really wasn’t on her schedule. Her phone was lying next to her on her bed, and her ipad was within reach. Marcia didn’t let age get in the way of communicating with people; she adapted to technology and kept her connections with others at her fingertips.
The day after the Blue Water Woman awards, she called and left me a message; she wanted to hear all about the ceremony.
A few days later, I again dropped in to visit her and told her how much she was missed at the awards. I also congratulated her on a lifetime achievement award she was to receive that weekend from the Michigan Historic Preservation Network. She was super bummed out that she would not be able to attend.
I told her I was going out of town, but I’d stop in and see her the following week. I squeezed her hands gently before I left, and she reached her arms up to me for a hug. She told me she was glad we were friends. The honor, I told her, was all mine.
My friend Marcia died just a few days later.
In the days since she’s passed, I’ve read so many tributes to her on social media from so many of her friends and family members. The one thing that really struck me was that Marcia made everyone feel so special and so special to her.
I honestly didn’t know her a long time and I don’t feel like I knew her well in the grand scheme of life, but our friendship was cherished and simple and really came to be because she kept reaching out to me and letting me know she cared, and that she saw me, and she saw something important in the work that I do.
There is no greater gift from a friend, old or new. That was Marcia. Note to self: Be more like Marcia. Stretch that dash with goodness.
At the age of 90, Marcia Haynes is the first of our Blue Water Woman of the Year Award Recipients to pass away. Our greatest condolences go out to her family, close friends and all who were touched by her life. Thank you all for sharing her with our community and the world.
Marcia is survived by her children, Carol (Robert) Krashen, David (Heather) Haynes, and Julie (Brian) Beaty; grandchildren, Nicole (Krashen) Smith, David Smith, Michael Krashen, Natalie Haynes, Jacob Haynes, Alexandra Beaty and Nolan Beaty and great granddaughter Emma Grace Smith as well as several nieces and nephews.
Marcia was preceded in death by her husband, N. Fred Haynes. (Source: Smith Family Funeral Home Obituary)
To learn more about Marica’s extraordinary life and commitment to preserving history and most especially her dedication to helping those with Alzheimer’s and their loved ones, please read our story about her in the Spring 2020 issue of Blue Water Woman.
According to her obituary, it was Marcia’s wish that memorials be made, in lieu of flowers, through the Smith Family Funeral Home to the University of Michigan for the “Michigan Alzheimer’s Disease Center Research.” Please put MADC Research in the check memo line.