Marilyn Drinker, 89, school librarian

Marilyn R. Drinker
Marilyn R. Drinker
Posted: January 02, 2013

Marilyn Rowe Drinker, 89, a school librarian and volunteer, died Saturday, Dec. 29, of a cerebral hematoma at KeystoneCare Hospice in Wyndmoor.

Born in San Francisco, Mrs. Drinker, known as "Sandy," grew up in San Antonio, Texas, and graduated from the University of Texas in 1945 with a bachelor's degree in psychology.

While in college, she was a legendary champion of the Posture Perfect Contest when posture was considered an important attribute for a young lady.

After she graduated, the Daily Texan reported with a sense of relief: "The posture contest entrants won't have to buck the stiff competition offered by Sandy Rowe, Kappa Alpha Theta, winner of the contest for four straight years."

According to a 20-page memoir, Mrs. Drinker's life changed in an instant just before Christmas 1946.

"I met my ideal vision of a man at an 'Army Brat' dance at the Fort Sam Houston Officers Club. He was wearing a made-to-order Jacob Reed's Army uniform and was so handsome," she wrote.

That man was Henry M. Drinker, an Army captain and a pediatrician from an old Philadelphia family.

In 1949 he whisked her off to Philadelphia, where they married and raised their three sons in Chestnut Hill and Flourtown, said her son, John.

After the boys were launched, she took a two-year course at Drexel University toward a master's degree in library science. She worked as a librarian from 1967 to 1981.

She had "an indomitable spirit, inexhaustible energy, and made life fun for all," her son said.

At 72, she and her husband spent two months living in a hot trailer on a reservation in Arizona, administering health care to American Indians. Later, they spent a month on St. Lucia, in the Caribbean, working at another medical center.

At 80, she spent eight months campaigning to save the dilapidated Black Horse Inn from a wrecking ball. The inn on Bethlehem Pike in Flourtown is now restored.

"She went to every Springfield Township commissioners meeting, even with a broken foot, to speak on behalf of the inn," said her son. The Friends of the Black Horse Inn gave her a dinner and award to recognize her contribution.

She was given the Chestnut Hill Award for 60 years of service to many organizations, including Monkey Business, Meals on Wheels, Chestnut Hill Community Association, Woodmere Art Museum, Chestnut Hill Center for Enrichment, Friends of the Chestnut Hill Library, and the Chestnut Hill Historical Society.

An avid tennis player, Mrs. Drinker was a past member of the Philadelphia Cricket Club, where she served as club historian. She was also a past president of the Chestnut Hill Garden Club.

Her husband died in 1999. Surviving, in addition to her son, are sons Sandwith and Ned; eight grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.

A celebration of life will be at 4 p.m. Friday, Jan. 4, at St. Thomas Church Whitemarsh, Bethlehem Pike and Camp Hill Road, Fort Washington, with a reception at the church. Interment is private.

Donations may be made to KeystoneCare Hospice, 8765 Stenton Ave., Wyndmoor, Pa. 19038.

Contact Bonnie L. Cook at 215-854-2611 or

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