Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Remembrances of Marla F. Crider

After her heroic 18-month battle with breast cancer, on December 13 (2014), hundreds of people attended a memorial service for Marla F. Crider at First Christian Church in Fayetteville, Arkansas. The following are memories of Marla written by some of those in attendance:

Marla was the sister I received after marrying into the Crider family. She had a twinkle in her eye and we shared lots of fun times together. 
- Carolyn Crider

Marla - my true friend for 38 years. You fought cancer like no other. You are at peace and out of pain. May Happy and you enjoy many laughs and giggles. God only made one Princess! 
- Patty Roddenberry

My memory of Marla was of a beautiful, thoughtful, interested and interesting woman. Heaven must be all aglow. 
- Anonymous

Marla - the shining star of Arkansas tourism! 
- Anonymous

Marla never complained. She tried to trick everyone into thinking she was more healthy than she was. In fact, she would always ask about us before we had a chance to inquire about her. She knew everyone, and always had something nice to say. She always dressed to the nines. She was always upbeat. She fought so hard to not only give others strength, but to have her experience expand medical knowledge for others' treatment. 
- Cindy Smith

I remember being excited wear my pretty long dress to be Marla's flower girl. She was a beautiful person. 
- Sherry Watkins Anderson

I was very young and remember when Malcolm died we visited the family. When Marla was born, I remember going to see her and how cute she was. All through the years she grew into such a beautiful and sweet girl. Love to the entire family. 
- Pat Watkins

Marla was not only a boss to me, but a friend. I looked to her as a mentor. I will miss our conversations in the office and driving to and from commission meetings. She is greatly missed, and I will never forget her. 
- Erik Holbrooks

Marla: Smile - hers like none other. With cancer, still a smile. What a lesson! Thank you, Marla.
- Anonymous

Marla was a youth sponsor when I was younger. She became our "mother" for two others and myself (Susan Bailey Edwards and Gayle Jenkins). It's funny because all of us were the youngest siblings in our families. Marla was there to celebrate with us when we were Baptized and on through life as we celebrated graduations, marriages and births. I didn't remember or know until her memorial how alike we were. I, like her, had three older brothers, with the third brother dying at a young age (10 years apart) and then the birth of a first girl (almost 10 years apart). We were Princess girls with older brothers. I think of her often and she will always be a part of my happy memories. Love you, "Mom!"
- Betty Arambel

Honorably happy,
Active believer,
Pretty and precious,
Youthful for eternity.
- George Wheatley

Marla, you have shown us all COURAGE. 
- Anonymous

The word that comes to mind when I think of Marla is resilient. In fact she should be listed as one of the definitions of the word. These are some of the definitions I found when I looked for ways to describe this incredible woman:

1. The ability to become strong and successful again after something bad happens.
2. The ineffable quality that allows some people to be knocked down by life and come back stronger than ever.
3. The capacity to withstand stress and catastrophe.
4. The ability to cope with change.
5. Being able to endure tribulation without cracking, closely connected to happiness.

See what I mean? She faced cancer with an uncommon courage that amazed all of us. One day as we sat waiting for chemo, I asked her how she coped with the fear and anxiety. Without even a moment of hesitation she replied, "you don't let it get in your mind." That was our take-charge Marla. She simply took charge of her mind. As she said in one of her posts, " in spite of cancer, I choose to be happy." She made this devastating loss so much easier for us. She was one of a kind. 
- Mike and Barbara Crider

Marla and I always worked in tourism. We are the same age. When I worked in Arkansas, we travelled to trade shows, market places and events. She was the most fun representative of the State of Arkansas. I work in Branson and we have kept in touch all along. Arkansas tourism lost their greatest cheerleader. Love you, Marla! 
- Lynn Berry

Marla was all those things that Don described - intelligent, brave and classy always. I might have added sassy to the list. I am so happy to learn how warm and loving her family is. We are all better for knowing Marla. May we all find even a fraction of her courage and grace. I love you and miss you, Marla.
- Anonymous

Our families have known each other for generations. My parents grew up with Happy and Mitchell. When I was in Hot Springs a few years ago, she met with me and told a funny story about my grandmother. That's how she was - friendly, kind, gracious. But that 's the way all the Criders are. They never forget you. I'm so sorry her life ended so early. My prayers are with the family at this time.
- Kathleen Webb Wallace

Marla and I were college friends and were inseparable for a time. I always enjoyed spending time with her laughing, sharing secrets, and just having a great time. As time would have it, our lives took different turns and we were apart. But Marla was always someone I could always continue a conversation no matter how long it had been since we had last seen each other. What an honor it was to have known her and shared sweet moments with her.  
- Susan Freeman Wizer

Marla and I share our love for cats. I remember being sent pictures of her sweet cat. I remember always thinking of her when I played with her dolls that had been passed down to me. 
- Hannah Crider

Marla always had the most incredible sparkle. She was just full of life and beauty and wit. She will be missed. 
- Kiki Crider

Wonderful memories of a great cousin. We will meet you in Heaven some day. 
- Leon and Alice Bradshaw

Marla and I grew up in First Christian Church together. I was two years older than Marla, and when you are young two years is a huge span of time. Therefore, to me, she was one of the "little kids." I know that Marla lived a happy life. 
- Pam Nickle

I dated Marla from 2002 until late 2004. She loved boating on Lake Hamilton and travelling on the Arkansas River on my cruiser. She was a beautiful, strong Lady. I will miss her as others. We have remained friends up to the very end. 
- Paul Hastings

Though I knew Marla for many years. I didn't get to spend a lot of time with her. I met her when we were seniors in High School. She introduced me to one of her very best friends - and he became mine. We have celebrated 40 years together, thanks to Marla. She has always been an energetic, positive person and through her disease and treatment became an inspiration to so many - myself included. Marla was such an example of how to deal with disappointment  and extraordinary pain. She remained incredibly strong in her walk with God. She has taught us all that life can be short and we should live each day to the fullest, making each moment count. Her absence leaves our hearts heavy, but we all know she rests with Jesus and smiles down on each of us. 
- Anonymous

At our wedding reception in 1997, Marla was the first person to hit the dance floor after the Father/Daughter dance. She took over the dance floor with laughter when she began doing the "Elaine Benes" dance from Seinfeld. 
- Christy Crider

Marla was a "get it done" person. She lived the life of "lead, follow, or get out of my way."
- Shelby Woods

Marla - Try not to tell St. Peter where to eat lunch. 
- Gloria and Richard

Marla loved my voice. That sounds like a good thing, but I really wanted a better, professional voice to represent Arkansas Tourism in our TV and radio spots. I lived in dread for a week or two as we debated the voice choice. In the end, she agreed that there was a much better voice out there to attract visitors to our great state. She was brilliant that way - to be active and dedicated to promoting Arkansas, and to the do the right thing for her beloved state. Still in all, I was flattered she had confidence in me and appreciated her guidance always. 
- Bill Fitzgerald

Marla: I have only known you for less than a year and through this short time I considered you my family. I know you are in a better place now and I will be able to see you again someday. You have a special place in my heart and I love you. 
- Charlee Martin

Marla was my new friend (mi nuevaamiga). My brother Miguel and me, we met her working with our new client the Department of Parks and Tourism. Even I did not have the opportunity to spend and share more time with Marla, I can say that Marla was a beautiful woman with a big heart. Thank Marla for your friendship. Gracias Amiga. 
- Enrique Fuentevilla

When we hired Marla at the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism, she made several changes in our policies and procedures, saying there was "a new Sherriff in town." The rest of us were happy to be her Deputies. 
- Joe David Rice

Marla was a very genuine, warm and a fighter. We were not aware of her disease, never realize it because of the strength and attitude to life. We had a chance to eat some authentic Mexican restaurants. She also support us and was very excited of our new working relationship. I have a lot to learn from such a beautiful person. 
- Miguel Fuentevilla

I have never met anyone who exhibited the amount of courage as I saw in Marla. Working with her from day to day gave me so much strength and faith in God. She handled her life a remarkable way, showing her faith and strength. Her last 1 1/2 years were an inspiration to many and testament to the glory of God. My life has been richly blessed by knowing her. 
- Cynthia Dunlap

I worked for Marla, and one evening my son told me he was punched on the bus. I was determined to get to the bottom of it the next day. I called Marla at 8:30 pm and told her what happened - that I was going to be late in the morning. She told me to do what I needed to do and don't let them brush it off. Marla was just as fired up and mad at what happened as I was! She wanted to know how everything turned out and gave me strength to keep pushing the school to act. This was a week before she left for the last time. 
- Jennifer Neubaner

What a wonderful spirit she had! Always fashionable, happy and confident. If someone could bottle what she had, they would be a billionaire. How rich we are to have known Marla. 
- Marilyn Heifner

Marla - I'll miss your wit and charm - bust mostly I'll miss you. 
-Bryan Kellar

Marla, I'm so glad to be a part of your family and lucky that I got to know you (it's always interesting that I met you through work SO many years ago and then got to know you as family). You just always filled any room with your sparkle and energy (no matter what). I'll miss you. 
- Morgan Robinson-Crider

Many times throughout my career in Arkansas, I made long presentations full of complex strategic plans and ideas, only to have the client's first question be: "Are you related to Marla?" I was always proud to say "yes."
- Scott Crider