Wednesday Feb 20 2008
Long-time resident dies
By: Susan Prince, Special to the Colfax Record
Marilyn Prince taught at Colfax Elementary
Marilyn Dey Prince, 81, died at her home in Eskaton Village in Grass Valley on Tuesday, Feb. 12. When my mother moved to Alta in 1957, Highway 40 ran through Alta and was the main route over the northern Sierra Nevada, across Donner Summit. Interstate 80 wasn't completed until 1960. It took nearly 30 minutes to reach Colfax and an hour to travel to Auburn. Those first years were a time of serious culture shock for Mom. While Dad went to work each day in Colfax, she was home with my three younger brothers and me. It was a lonely time until she began finding her many friends. Mom grew to love the area and made many close friends. Born in 1926 in Oregon City, OR, to Benjamin C. Dey of Oregon and Hazel Sobey Dey of California, Mom had been raised in New York and San Francisco. She was educated at Castelleja School and Miss Burke's School for Girls through high school. In 1947, she received a BA degree in history from Stanford University, finishing the four-year course of study in three years. She married Charles L. Prince that year and settled in Los Angeles, later moving to the Bay Area. In 1956, when Charles purchased Prince Ford in Colfax, the couple moved to Auburn and then to Alta. Mom had never lived in a town as rural and remote as Alta, and she had a lot to learn. For example, she would go shopping in Auburn once a month, and learned how to cook to fill a freezer to tide us over. Eventually, Mom continued her education at the University of California, Berkeley and at Sacramento State in the 1960s obtaining a California teaching credential. Mom absolutely loved children. She started with the four of us and branched out to teach children in the primary grades at Bowman and Colfax Elementary Schools. For more than 50 years “ until this past October ” Mom baked dozens and dozens of big pumpkin-shaped cookies each Halloween. We would gather with friends at the family home to decorate those cookies, which were a beloved tradition in our small community. One of my favorite Mom stories happened just before Christmas in the mid-1970s. Mom was sitting in the Auburn Faith Hospital waiting room and overheard a young mother talking to her friend. The woman said her son was in the hospital. She was upset she had no money for Christmas gifts, partly because of the hospital expenses. My mom had just returned from a trip to Reno with friends and happened to have her winnings (several hundred dollars) in her purse. When the friend left, Mom got up and approached the young mother. She said, I don't know you and you don't know me and that's just fine. But your son needs to believe in Santa Claus. Please take this money, and don't think any more about it. The woman was delighted, and so was Mom. She was tickled to be able to help. During her teaching years Mom was active with the California Teachers' Association. She volunteered for the Golden Drift Historical Society, Soroptimist International of Colfax, the Dutch Flat Community Center, and Auburn Faith Hospital. Mom enjoyed hiking with her friends in the Alta Hiking Group, was a skilled bridge player, relished card and other games and was an avid reader. At her request, there will be no service or memorial. Gifts can be made to the Golden Drift Historical Society, P.O. Box 253, Dutch Flat, CA 95714; the Dutch Flat Community Center, P.O. Box 14, Dutch Flat, CA 95714; or to a local National Public Radio station. She is survived by her daughter and son-in-law, Susan Prince and Jim Ricker of Dutch Flat; and her three sons and daughters-in-law Benjamin and Kathleen Prince of Dutch Flat; George and Dee Prince of San Carlos, and Charles and Arlene Prince of San Francisco. Also surviving her are six grandchildren: Emily, Steven, Hannah and Nicholas Prince and Mikhail and Nicholas Stanich.