The Marjorie McMahon Scholarship Fund

"Marjorie McMahon: teacher, adventurer"

by Jennifer Comes

Marjorie McMahon once attributed her long life to keeping busy and taking an interest in the people around her. "She was very spirited and enjoyed life, I think, as much as you could," said her grandniece Marsha Stromberg. "Even clear up to the end, she felt bad because she couldn't contribute and keep busy and I think that frustrated her because she was so used to being active."

Miss McMahon, who was thought to have been the oldest living alumna of Fairmount College, from which Wichita State University was founded, died Nov 3, 1992 of complications from a stroke. She was 100 years old.

Miss McMahon was born Dec. 18, 1891, in Anthony, the daughter of the town lawyer and the school-teacher. She graduated from Anthony High School in 1901. As a student at Fairmount College, she was on the staff of The Sunflower, the campus newspaper, and lettered in basketball, oratory and debate. She graduated from Fairmount in 1913. She earned a master's degree from Columbia University in New York in 1931.

Miss McMahon taught school in Anthony; Spring Township; south of Anthony; Andover; and at Robinson and Roosevelt Intermediate schools in Wichita. She spent the last 20 years of her 47-year career teaching math as East High.

"She was a strict teacher, with very high expectations of her students" Stromberg said. "She felt that if you treat them fairly, they'd do anything you'd ask of them."

Many of Miss McMahon's students kept in touch with her over the years, she said.

Her great-aunt had the soul of an adventurer, Stromberg said. In 1923, Miss McMahon and three other teachers decided to take a cross-country camping trip in a Model T touring car. When they ran out of money, they had to stop in Green Bay, Wis. To pick cherries. One summer, Miss McMahon sold encyclopedias; another summer she waited tables in Estes Park, Colo.

Her favorite adventures often included her best friend, Ina Fulton. Together the two teachers bought and operated a summer resort on Round Lake, near Brainerd, Minn.

"They ran it every summer for 25 years" said Miss McMahon's nice Mary Guerrant, Stromberg's mother. "And the same people seemed to go back year after year. They did have a wonderful time up there."

Miss McMahon was a longtime volunteer with the American Red Cross' Midway-Kansas Chapter, and was a 75-year member of the Anthony Order of the Eastern Star. She was also a member of the Wichita White Shrine and Plymouth Congregational Church in Wichita.

In addition to Guerrant and Stromberg, Miss McMahon is survived by her great-nephews, E.J. and Robert Guerrant.

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