Who Was Marjorie Jolidon?
by Christa Rakich
Marjorie Jolidon was the benefactor of what will be a “life changing” (if we can apply that term to an organization) bequest to the Greater Hartford Chapter of the AGO. Since Marge’s active role in the chapter was some years back, we’ve asked chapter members who knew Marge to share their memories. We are grateful to members Nancy Robbins, John Coghill, and Mike Foley for these recollections.
Marge was a lover of good music, the theater, and traveling. She had season tickets every year to the Hartford Stage, the Goodspeed Opera House, and the Hartford Symphony Orchestra. She was also active in the Musical Club of Hartford, of which she was a past president. Nancy Robbins recalls the beginning of her friendship with Marge, enjoying Marge and her husband Charlie’s hospitality on many occasions when the two women met at Marge’s Hartford south end home to rehearse organ duets for a program of the Musical Club of Hartford.
Mike Foley met Marge in 1981 while she was organist at The Church of the Good Shepherd in Hartford. Mike then learned that Marge had a 6 rank unit organ in her home that needed a lot of work. Mike was invited to come and take a look. While working on the organ over the course of the next months, Mike got to know Marge and Charlie as warm, hospitable people who always looked forward to his visits, which were as much about friendship as they were about organ service.
John Coghill and Marge were colleagues while both were teaching in the Bloomfield Schools. Marge was a music teacher and John in the classroom. He remembers that she was a “big force.” One time, John and Marge together directed a Gilbert & Sullivan performance by the fifth and sixth grades, and he remembers that Marge nearly tore her hair out dealing with the kids. The audience filled the room and the students did a wonderful job. Marge had a short fuse, which meant she got after the kids.
Marge also loved animals, often trapping stray cats in her neighborhood with a humane trap, taking them to her vet, and keeping them for pets. All three contributors to this piece mentioned the cats and excited, yapping dogs present at every visit.
Marge and Charlie owned a very nice beach cottage in Cornfield Point, Old Saybrook. They spent years renovating it with their own sweat equity when they were younger, turning it into a year-round home. In addition to her pipe organ and grand piano in Hartford, she had an electronic organ and an upright piano side by side in Old Saybrook. On one of her many visits to Old Saybrook, Nancy Robbins recalls how Marge told her of the fun times she used to have when the church choir members would go there, many of whom would remain overnight sleeping all over the house. She and Charlie had planned to retire there, but his death changed their plans. Marge did, however, eventually sell their Hartford home and stayed in Old Saybrook until she died.
We have a portrait of a warm, generous, and hospitable woman who was devoted to her husband, her pets, and to good music and the arts. While it was clear she had the means to meet her needs, she lived a modest life. Her legacy continues, and has been entrusted to us and others. In addition to the Greater Hartford Chapter AGO, the other beneficiaries of her $2.5 million estate were the Hartford Symphony Orchestra, The Katherine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center in Old Saybrook, The Goodspeed Opera House, and the Musical Club of Hartford.
For more information about the fund or the subcommittee, contact Christa Rakich at: