For Marcella Arnow

Born September 22, 1941, Died February 14, 2010

She was born in Kentucky, grew up in Michigan, lived in New York and Winchester, England. She was a good friend, sister, cousin, cook, gardener, and horse rider. She called us all “Sweetie.”

Her friends and family are scattered, so I put together these web pages together to share some pictures, words and music to commemorate my cousin Marcella. Most of this (except for the story by Marc Ringel) comes from the funeral service February 18 in Winchester.— Pat Arnow

Tribute from
Christine Whitehead

From the funeral service for Marcella, in the town where she lived for many years, Winchester, England, February 18, 2010:

I have known Marcella for some 47 years, ever since she came to London School of Economics in 1963.

Six short cameos from our many times together - most, not surprisingly, involving cooking –

Talking to her last month about her first winter – which was as cold as this one – she had a one room flat with 4 outside walls and a single bar heater! - but also a little later when she moved to Great Ormond St with a fantastic landlady who had been a BBC producer but was then cooking for a living usually venison in the Highlands.

Christmas at the family home in Ann Arbor – and going up to road to the farm to buy milk for the blueberry muffins that Harriet was going to make. And doing complex cooking recipes in my parents home , who had become her English family in the 1960s

Monitoring the World Trade Centre being built, from outside her flat in Brooklyn – where I spent many happy weeks on and off in the 1970s - and watching her face as she opened a present from her mother – a beautiful and large (the flat was not large) wooden ice cream maker!

Cooking duck in another friends cold and miserable flat in London just after Marcella came back to London – and Marcella’s concern about carrying the enormous amount of fat they had produced

On so many occasions chatting/arguing about London, politics – both UK and US, the health service, art or whatever in our kitchen in Islington - or on the phone – and only twice in Winchester (for which I am ashamed)

And not more than ten days ago asking her why she came to LSE in 1963 – long before it became the norm with the influx of Americans escaping the Vietnam war – saying it was brave - and Marcella replying ‘roughly’ nonsense and smiling her marvellous smile when I said I was so glad that she had come.

Marcella in her garden in Winchester, 1999

Tribute from Mike Arnow

From the funeral service for Marcella

I am here with my sisters Maureen and Pat from the United States.

Our father and Marcella's father were brothers and they lived a hard life surviving the depression.  Marcella's parents met in the writer's project, one of President Roosevelt's initiatives to keep artists employed during the 1930s.  

Marcella's parents scratched out a meager existence on their farm on the rural hills of Kentucky.  That's where Marcella was born, in Keno, Kentucky.  Like many people of the mountain south, the family moved to the industrial north, where more jobs were available.  They settled on small farm in a community near Detroit Michigan.  The weather was tough... and the farm life was tough too, but Marcella's dad could work the farm and work in the city too, so life was somewhat better.

Marcella grew up on the farm with her younger brother Tom.  Her dad (Harold) worked for the Detroit Times as a crime reporter. He was a hard-crusted cynic on the outside and a slightly warmer-hearted Dad on the inside.

Marcella's mom, Harriette Simpson Arnow, wrote 5 best selling books and was named by a national magazine as one of the top 5 women of 1955.  Her mom had an artist's temperament that made her very hard to get along with.
 Marcella eventually came to the UK to study at the London School of Economics.  This brilliant young women loved it here and returned in the 1980s, and she stayed for good.  She didn't dislike the United States.  She was mostly proud of her US citizenship, except when George Bush was president.  

My first vivid memory of Marcella was of this quiet little girl, on the farm, in pig tails, with her head in a book.  My last vivid memory of Marcella was about 6 years ago.  She was visiting the States.  We sat in a garden on a warm, quite summer night sipping red wine and talking about a future trip we hoped to take together to Lithuania.  She wanted to visit the land where her grandfather (our grandfather) Louis Arnow lived, and where, in 1890, at age 19 he fled the pogroms that attempted to eliminate the Jews.  We didn't talk much about her cancer.  Her hair was just starting to grow back.  We didn't talk about her courage in the face of cancer, but we talked about the future, and we admired her ability to look only to the future.

This June, when our children our out of school, Laura and I will be flying to Lithuania.  We plan to sit on a warm, quiet summer night, sipping red wine, talking about the future, and saluting the memory of Marcella Jane Arnow.

Marcella in the garden behind her house in Winchester, 1999. Everything seemed to be blooming. (Pat Arnow's photo)
In Kentucky with Wanda Worley
With her friend Wanda Worley in Kentucky. (Photo from Wanda)
Marcella with Dylan and Miranda Keeling
With her friends Dylan and Miranda Keeling. (Photo from the Keelings)

read by Miranda Keeling

at the funeral service
An extract from
by Kentucky poet
Wendell Berry

Dear relatives and friends, when my last breath
Grows large and free in the air, don’t call it death –
A word to enrich the undertaker and inspire
His surly art of imitating life; conspire
Against him. Say that my body cannot now
Be improved upon; it has no fault to show
To the sly cosmetician. Say that my flesh
Has a perfection in compliance with the grass
Truer than any it could have striven for.
You will recognize the earth in me, as before
I wished to know it in myself; my earth
That has been my care and faithful charge from
And toward which all my sorrows were surely
And all my hopes. Say that I have found
A good solution, and am on my way
To the roots. And say that I have left my native clay
At last to be a traveler; that too will be so.

Marcella photo by Avril Speirs
Marcella's Winchester friend, Avril Speirs, took this a few years ago. She said it is the Marcella she likes to think about--in a garden, smiling and healthy.

A Remembrance
by Marc Ringel

First, an introduction by Pat:
My cousin Marcella was a few years older and much more responsible than I. She stayed in an apartment with me and some other roommates for a time in Chicago in the early ‘70s. She always treated our scruffy, broke and hapless selves with indulgence and humor.

This is from an e-mail I received February 14 from one of the roommates, Marc Ringel:

I've loved Marcella ever since she stayed with us on Fremont Street.  I too remember that dinner at The Bakery.  She blew a large part of her expense budget to take about a half-dozen of us out to dinner, saying it was in repayment for not having to rent a hotel room. 

I even remember Marcella telling us, as she ordered the first of a number of bottles of wine, that you should start with the best and most expensive, before you'd drunk too much to be able to tell the difference.  I had soup that was just the right temperature and beef Wellington.  That's how well I remember it. 
It was wonderful to Marcella again at The Great Louisville Theater Event [Marcella came to see a play Pat co-wrote with her husband and an actor friend].  She was insistent that I come visit her in London, which, of course, I will never get to do. 

She had the same indomitable spirit as always.  Was wearing an elastic sleeve to control the swelling in her arm on the side where she'd had the breast and lymph nodes removed.  It was just another fact of her life.  There was no room for self-pity.
I know how much you'll miss your dear cousin.  I'll miss her too.


Marcella as a kid

Harriette, Tom and Marcella Arnow.

Zeffy said Kaddish for Marcella at the funeral, and Linda Maayam explained it:

Kaddish is commonly known as a mourner's prayer and yet the prayer itself has nothing to do with death or mourning!   The prayer begins “Let us magnify and sanctify the great name of God in the world which He created.... May the greatness of God be blessed from eternity to eternity...”and continues praising God.   

Why then is Kaddish recited by mourners?   After the death of a relative or close friend, you may expect a person to lose faith in God or to cry out against God's injustice.   Instead, Judaism requires a mourner to reaffirm faith in God despite this loss.

The prayer ends with “May God who makes peace in the highest bring this peace upon us and upon all Israel.   Amen.”


Marcella asked Dylan Keeling to choose the music for her funeral. She wanted a version of Amazing Grace, and he chose a version by the great gospel singer Mahalia Jackson.

She also requested that Klezmer Music be played. Dylan chose Itzhak Perlman playing the Eastern European Jewish folk music.


It's a strange thing, creating web pages about a funeral, but I wanted to do this to share the good words said about Marcella with the many people who knew her but couldn't be there, and for her friends and family who were there and want to remember.

If you e-mail me pictures or memories, I will be glad to add them.
Pat and Marcella at the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens, 1983

Marcella asked for a Humanist funeral (except for Kaddish), and wanted to be buried in her adopted home of Winchester, England. A celebrant put together the service, and her words telling more of Marcella's life are here, along with a few more pictures.

Marcella took me to the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens in 1983. (Photo by Pat Arnow--it was a self-timer.)
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Marcella Tribute Part 2 (more from the funeral service)

Marcella Tribute Part 3 (by brother Tom)