A LIFE LIVED SIMPLY, A GIFT GIVEN HUMBLY. GENTLE WOMAN LEAVES LASTING LEGACY FOR McLAREN
She was a person you might see every day, but not really notice. She worked hard, in a quiet way, and never drew attention to herself. Freda Marks was an unassuming, diligent woman who believed in service and putting others first. When she died at age 96, she gave half of her estate to McLaren Flint, the place she worked for 19 years. The gift, totaling close to $400,000, will help cancer patients and patients with urologic disease.
According to Sheila Zorn, Mrs. Mark's trust officer for 15 years, Freda and her husband Maurice lived a simple life. Born in Beulah, Michigan she came to Flint to start her adult life and moved into an apartment in the city. She took the bus to work each day, never learning how to drive.
Her humble beginnings never faded from her memory, and she remained frugal her entire life, shopping for clothes at Salvation Army and Goodwill for the most part. She and Morey, as she called her husband, eventually moved into a mobile home community on Atherton Road in Flint where she cultivated her love of birds and raised beautiful and graceful canaries.
She kept three of these musical yellow birds in her home, and was known to teach them tricks and hold them in her hands regularly. "She loved her canaries and would feed them by hand," said Zorn. "They brought her so much joy."
In her later years, after Morey had passed away and she retired from McLaren's dietary department, Freda moved to Woodhaven, an assisted-living complex in Flint. "She did not want to move in, as I remember, and said she felt she was going there to die," said Zorn. "But when we walked in that first time, she looked around at the beautiful center and said she felt she didn't deserve such grand surroundings."
However, this private, shy women adjusted quickly and did not spend much time in her room, as she took to the social life of the center. Bingo, crafts and dining with neighbors became her norm, as well as caring for her remaining canary that moved to Woodhaven with her.
"She was a good-hearted woman who worked hard her entire life, lived simply and quietly and gave back to a place that meant so much to her," said Zorn.
Freda Marks knew that, no matter what she had or enjoyed in life, giving back was a way to leave a positive, impactful legacy for those who come after. Today, McLaren Flint is benefitting from the gifts of people like former McLaren employee Freda Marks.