A collection of memories of Gonzaga’s Marilyn Stanton, instructor of piano and assistant professor in biology.

These responses came from the Spring 2011 issue of Gonzaga Magazine’s prompt: “Who Is This Zag?”

  • Dale Krumm, husband of the late LaRue Krumm (’50) writes from Kirkland, Wash.: “Marilyn Maguire Stanton and my wife, LaRue, were close friends during their years at Gonzaga. She and her husband, Fred, were members of our wedding party when LaRue and I were married at St. John’s Episcopal Cathedral. Marilyn was the organist and Fred sang the “O Promise Me” selection which was required at all weddings in the 1950s. Accomplished pianist that she was, she had a Kimball Square Grand piano in her home. When she replaced it with a grand piano she offered us the Kimball if we would move it. We hesitated as it weighed at least a ton, but finally accepted, and the piano was with us many years for our three children to use.”
  • ’56 MaryJo Anderson of Redmond, Wash., says: “Marilyn Stanton is the mystery lady. I took piano lessons from her for several semesters. Also I babysat for her young baby (Michael) many evenings. After my graduation I returned to Gonzaga to fulfill my fifth year, required for teachers at that time. A series of classes I took was a current survey of physics, chemistry, and biology. Mrs. Stanton taught the biology section. It was a great class. She is a brilliant and talented lady. My guess is that Michael Stanton went on to an interesting career. Around 1964 the Seattle Times had an article about how Michael was training earthworms. I can’t recall the results of the training, but remember his goal. One add-on: The Stanton house at the time was brand new with no curtains or shrubbery, and quite isolated near the Spokane River. Rather than doing my homework after the baby fell asleep, I was drawn to the piano to sight read Menotti’s opera ‘The Consul.’ The ambiance is a vivid remembrance.”
  • ’56 Pamela (Fournier) Small, St. Aloysius Parish, Spokane, writes: “Your picture is of a great lady and a real asset to our community, Marilyn Stanton, pictured in the 1950s with her ever-present smile. I didn’t know Marilyn until 15 years later when Citizens Against Residential Freeways stopped the Hamilton Street freeway corridor cold. Marilyn with her great organizational skills headed CARF. Forty years later a freeway is slowly being built, but along the Greene/Market Corridor which Marilyn and CARF proposed way back then. The GU neighborhood and Mission Park are still intact.”
  • ’60 Dr. Janice Joseph of San Rafael, Calif., writes: “That would be Marilyn Stanton, a memorable teacher in so many ways: intelligent, innovative, fair-minded, humorous and compassionate. She once told our class that we would not recognize the next step in evolution, even if it were in our midst. Maybe not, Marilyn, but you were clearly visible as a superb role model. Your kindness is remembered.”
  • ’60 Dr. Art Kennedy of Edmonds, Wash., recalls, “The Zag in the spring 2011 issue is Marilyn Stanton. I was lucky to study comparative anatomy and embryology under her superb guidance. I had many wonderful teachers at Gonzaga, but she was one of the very best. I always marveled at the depth of her knowledge. One funny thing happened in the anatomy lab: Shortly before a laboratory examination on cat anatomy, a person or persons stole the beautifully dissected cat that Janice Joseph had spent so much time on. Ms. Stanton appealed to the honor of the villains to return the carcass, and it was restored to its rightful owner the next day. I guess it’s possible that your doctor could be a cat-body snatcher.”
  • ’65 John Chilgren of Portland, Ore., writes: “One of the most brilliant teachers and minds on the planet at that time, Marilyn Stanton was one of my teachers while I studied biology at GU in the early ‘60s. I also had the distinct pleasure of attending her Ph.D. presentation at WSU when I was pursuing my own. She was an inspired scholar, a musical tour de force and probably one of the 5 best teachers in all of my four years at GU. I remember her as inspiration to learning as well as a fountain of wisdom. I was deeply shocked and saddened by her early passing, as was her committed husband, Fred Stanton, chair of the Department of Communications, with whom I had a few conversations after his retirement. Marilyn was a truly giving person and always had much to offer. My memories of her classes are among my best at GU.”
  • ’62 Dr. Anna Ledgerwood of Detroit and Pomeroy, Wash., recalls: “Marilyn Stanton taught embryology and comparative anatomy. I was in her class as a pre-med student in 1960-61. She was an outstanding teacher who expected a lot from the students. At the end of each class, she would say “take the next 20 pages” and there would be a test on those 20 pages at the beginning of the next class. The mid-term and final exams were always open book and you could bring any material you wanted. She also would announce at the beginning of the test that you could take as long as you wanted and she brought her dinner. The test questions really made you think and it did not matter what books you had – you still had to reason out the question. She would ask such questions as ‘What physiological change had to occur to allow a certain fish that was native to fresh water, to survive in salt water?’ ”
  • ’67 Roger Branz of Spokane writes: “This mystery Zag is Marilyn Stanton. I was in two semesters of embryology with her in 1965-66. She was quite the teacher. No monkey-business was allowed, and you had better have all of her notes. I was fortunate to get through both classes with Bs. Boy, was I happy. A lot of students didn’t make it. I can still hear her footsteps coming down the fourth floor of the Administration Building headed for the lab. She was an intimidating figure, but also one of the best over-all professors I had at Gonzaga. Not only did I have Marilyn, I also had Fred Stanton for speech on the first floor of the Administration Building. He was a cupcake compared to her.”
  • ’69 Joe Busch of Spokane recalls, “I had Marilyn Stanton for comparative embryology in 1966-67. I remember the year-end finals were scheduled to be two hours long. Mrs. Stanton told us that we could use open books. I thought ‘this will be easy.’ Silly sophomore. It took five hours, and I swear most kids had headaches leaving the classroom. It was the longest and hardest final I had at GU. She was a tough teacher, but very knowledgeable.”
  • ’70 Candace Frasher of Spokane recalls: “The wonderful woman at the microscope is Marilyn Stanton. In 1968/69, she was my embryology professor and co-taught modern philosophy, a class that changed my life. The philosophy class was based on the writings of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. Mrs. Stanton and Father Tom Royce challenged us to dig deep. Questions about religion kept me awake nights and soon I was an intellectual and emotional mess. During a visit to Mrs. Stanton’s home to discuss a term paper, I asked if she believed in the virgin birth. She answered me with a question, “Candace, which is the greater miracle, a virgin birth, or evolution?” I thought about it, and then laughed. “God knows,” I replied. It was an enlightening moment that set me free. I felt the door open to question everything without God punishing me for being incapable of figuring Him out. I was also privileged to be employed as Mrs. Stanton’s lab assistant for Gonzaga’s work-study program. Before one class, I accidentally set out a wrong chemical. When no one’s experiment worked the way it should, Mrs. Stanton quickly discovered my mistake. I was sick with guilt and embarrassment; however, instead of criticizing me, she laughed and chalked the whole thing up to another great learning experience. Marilyn was married to Dr. Fred Stanton, also a professor at GU. They had a tradition of inviting students to their home for Christmas parties. Fred was the first adult to offer me a drink. The idea was as intoxicating as the magical slow burn of my first sip of Southern Comfort, and one shy college student was transformed into an empowered, more confident, young adult.”
  • ’71 Mary Anne Brown Stuckart of Spokane reminds her classmates that 2011 is their 40th class reunion and recalls: “I was a student in Marilyn Stanton’s anatomy and physiology class during the 1968-69 school year. The class was at 8 a.m. Students were on time and never missed the class; she was so entertaining and interesting with her presentations. I have kept the textbook for 42 years and refer to it frequently regarding medical questions. My funniest memory is that when we studied the reproductive and urinary systems she called it the GU system-short for genital/urinary system. Needless to say she had everyone’s attention.”
  • ’74 Yvonne Maier Shimek of Edmonds, Wash., writes:” Dr. Marilyn Stanton! She was my advisor during my time 1970-1974 at GU. She was a trailblazer for women in medicine and community activism. She invited her students to her home at Christmas time for a party to help relieve the stress. She was a very interesting person and deeply concerned for her students. She was a role model for me in my long career in healthcare. She and her husband were a very important part of what made Gonzaga University the special place it was at that time and is now. Thanks you for featuring her.”
  • ’77 Wendell Belfield of Livermore, Calif., writes: “The woman in the photo is Marilyn Stanton. A very good teacher. She was demanding but a fair grader.”
  • ’77 Wesley Manaday of Boston recalls: “The woman in the photograph is the wonderful Marilyn Stanton, who was my adviser and whom I loved dearly. In my first year at Gonzaga, I took her human anatomy and physiology 101 and 102 courses and in the fall of that year, won the Great Giant Pumpkin Contest for my amylase analysis report, a competition she held annually. The year after, Marilyn Stanton selected me to be one of her teaching assistants. It was also the year I declared a minor in speech pathology and her husband, Fred Stanton, was my adviser and instructor. The year following, I went abroad in the Gonzaga-in-Florence Program and by chance, their son, David, became my roommate at the Pensione Medici. David and I became fast friends and enjoyed the culture, food and wine of Italy.”
  • ’80 Kathleen Knapp McKnight of Sparks, Nev., writes: “I was delighted to recognize the Mystery Zag in the spring issue of Gonzaga Magazine as Marilyn Stanton. She was a complete dynamo, a fantastic educator and person. I thoroughly enjoyed her anatomy and physiology class, and also worked for her in a work study assignment. Her office was lined with notebooks full of articles on every possible subject. She would comb through volumes of scholarly journals and magazines weekly, noting articles of interest. It was my job to file each article in its appropriate notebook. I remember one winter day having a cup of tea with her and commenting how cold I felt. She said although we believe drinking a hot drink will make us warm, it’s really the opposite. I still drink hot tea on cold days, and always remember that conversation with a smile. She was a great role model, and it was a wonderful experience to have worked for her. Her husband, Dr. Fred Stanton, was the department head of the speech pathology department, when it was still offered at GU. Thank you for the memory.”
  • ’81 Marie Fessenbecker of Norfolk, Va., writes: “ As I saw the photo and read the brief description of the female “mystery student” of long ago, I couldn’t help but ask myself, “Could this possibly be Marilyn Stanton?” She was my anatomy and physiology professor sophomore year at Gonzaga, and how I enjoyed her. The first day of class I was very hesitant, because I knew it would be tough, and sciences were not my strength. Mrs. Stanton confirmed in her direct way that the course was indeed very challenging. She made a proposal, however, saying that if we would study for only 15 minutes daily, we could easily get an “A” in the course. We needed to memorize all of the bones so that we would have an easier time memorizing all the muscles. The rest of the class would build upon this knowledge. I accepted her challenge, and found the class more interesting than I could have ever imagined. She brought much enthusiasm to the class as she found relevant articles in magazines and newspapers. She also brought the gift of humor to her class which made the class even more enjoyable. She had the knack of being able to tie what we were learning with everyday situations and realities. In every aspect of her teaching she gave of herself in a full and generous way, always being available for questions when she was able. How blessed I was to have her as a teacher at Gonzaga University. She gave me a greater love of my own life and my abilities as a student. I still tell the story of my first day of class with Mrs. Stanton to my 13-year-old and how it made such a difference in my life throughout the rest of my studies. For the life of Mrs. Stanton I am very grateful. Thank you for the opportunity you have given me to remember someone special in my life.”
  • ’84 Russell Shear of Spokane writes: “The mystery Zag is Professor Marilyn Stanton. I found her to be delightful and an expert in human physiology, anatomy and embryology. I will always remember her worksheets she passed out which were on legal-sized paper, small font and used every space of the paper including the margins. I learned a great deal from her.”
  • ’92 Cristine Cashatt (’03 M.S. in Nursing Admin.) of Spokane writes: “The mystery Zag is my biology professor and advisor Marilyn Stanton. As a student in nutrition and also advanced anatomy and physiology, every couple weeks she would send us off with a 300-question take home test in tiny print on legal size paper. As I suffered through answering all of those questions, the intricate knowledge of the human body systems was getting safely tucked away inside me in preparation for nursing school. She advised me “If you want to be effective at the bedside, you’ve got to know the body on the inside.” Marilyn was a dedicated professor, staying late into the evening to help out anyone who needed it. Her work ethic and enthusiasm for teaching inspired me to help out as a clinical instructor at GU in the B.S.N. program. I will never forget her and the classroom office with all the anatomy models and books.”
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