Marsha Elaine Black, 77, of Leeper died Tuesday, September 6, 2022 from congestive heart failure, end-stage renal failure, cancer twice and diabetes complicating the whole process of trying to stay alive.
She was born June 25, 1945 at her grandparents’ home near Lawsonham. While her father was busy participating in the latter stages of WWII, she, her mother and her older sister lived with her grandparents, Edward C. and Twila (Dot) Mortimer in Lawsonham. When her father came home, they lived in the little village of West Freedom until Marsha was nine years old. She attended the two-room school there where she decided on the first day of first grade to become a teacher just like Mrs. Hagan. She was also paddled the first day of first grade.
Her family moved to Rimersburg where Marsha grew up and graduated from Union High School in 1963. She then attended Clarion State College where she earned a bachelor’s degree in secondary education, majoring in secondary English, history and developmental reading. She then accepted a teaching position at North Clarion School District where she remained for the next thirty-one years.
At North Clarion, Marsha was a cheerleading adviser for two years and volleyball coach for three years, but her greatest extra-curricular love was drama. In 1972, she started the drama club and continued as director of plays and musicals until 1985. In 1973 North Clarion’s production of “The Sound of Music” was selected to perform at the Silver Fox Playhouse. This was quite an accomplishment for such a small school.
In 1985, Marsha took a year’s sabbatical to attend Edinboro University and get a master’s degree in psychology and counseling with certification in guidance counseling. She returned the next year to North Clarion and continued teaching senior high English and public speaking.
With ill health catching up to her, she again took a one-semester sabbatical to fight cancer, and she survived to continue her career as the high school guidance counselor. But soon it was evident that nasty health was going to win. She was forced to take a disability retirement in 1998.
By 2010, she had survived cancer twice and put chronic fatigue syndrome into remission, but other diseases wanted to try their luck at putting her out of commission. In 2014 she developed a fast growing infection that turned to sepsis. She spent six weeks in the hospital and bounced back, but with only minimal kidney function. Enter dialysis.
At this time she started writing a column for the Clarion News, which she continued until shortly before her death. She always said that her body may be giving out but as long as her mind was still sharp, she would continue using it, even if only to joke with her nurses. She never lost her sense of humor.
In 2020 she again developed a fast growing infection in her dialysis graft and spent seven weeks in the hospital. She again fooled her doctors by surviving, but she suffered many more complications. Since then her health had steadily declined.
Marsha’s life was filled with joy and adventure. For six years after graduating college, she spent most of her summers counseling at her church camp, Living Waters, in Bedford County. In 1971, she, her friend and her dog circumnavigated Kinzua Lake in a canoe. The trip took four days and another three to clean her mother’s cookware. It was during this trip that a nasty mosquito gave her encephalitis.
Marsha was a member of the Jerusalem United Church of Christ in Rimersburg where she served as both a deacon and an elder. She also sang in the church choir in earlier times. She was also a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution. She loved gardening, landscaping, and anything to do with the outdoors. Mowing was her thinking time. For ten years, she did a lot of thinking while mowing Crown Farms for her sister.
Marsha is survived by her greatest friend ever, Vivian Smith, her sister, Diana Gonzalez of Erie, her nephews Jake Fuellhart and wife Liz of Mt Lebanon, and Tony Gonzalez and wife Rona of Erie, her nieces Lori Gonzalez of Erie and Pamela Saraceno of Missouri, great nephew A.J. Gonzalez. great nieces Sasha and Jacqueline Fuellhart, Madison and Leah Saraceno and Tessa Gonzalez and her special great niece Meghan Gonzalez , Noah and Elaina McKelvey and great grand nephew and God son, Jordan Sweet of Erie.
Marsha was preceded in death by her parents, George and Edna Jean Black, her grandparents Ed and Dot Mortimer and Arthur and Sydna Black, her sister Janice Black Fuellhart, her brother-in-law Jack Fuellhart, her niece Andrea Fuellhart Douglas and her nephew James Fuellhart.
Marsha would like to thank Dr. Robert Luderer and Dr. Catherine Cunningham for keeping her on the top side of the grass for so many years.
Services will be held at the Jerusalem United Church of Christ at the 4-way stop in Rimersburg on Saturday, September 24, 2022 at 1:00 PM with Rev. Dr. Jack Gareis, pastor, and Miss Peggy Mortimer, lay minister, officiating. Interment will be in the Lawsonham cemetery located directly below her grandparents’ home.
Thus she returns to where it all started.
Memorial contributions may be made to a homeless animal shelter of ones choice.
Friends and family may order flowers, leave online condolences, light a memorial candle, share a memory and obtain additional information by visiting www.furlong funeral home.com.