Marion Kane

Back in 2003, Match High School was puttering along. Not bad, not great. We made a big decision to redesign our school around a group of full-time tutors. The only way to entice recent college grads for a service year, we figured, was to give them somewhere to live. So we decided to renovate our empty third floor into a dorm for the tutors, and needed $1 million to do so.

One of our early backers for this idea was Marion Kane. She was director of a local foundation called Barr. It remains largest Boston-area giver to K-12, I believe, endowed by Amos Hostetter. Marion's colleague Kim Haskins heard us out, and helped developed the proposal in 2004. And then Marion gave her blessing to what, in hindsight, was a little bit of a crazy idea -- they made a very large contribution.

Alas, this just in from her successor, Pat Brandes.

It is with great sadness that I share the news that Marion Kane, Barr’s first executive director, passed away Monday night in Falmouth, Maine. In the end, she was surrounded by loved ones. A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 8, at the Falmouth Congregational Church, 267 Falmouth Rd., Falmouth, Maine. Marion’s obituary appeared this morning in the Bangor Daily News and can be viewed here.

Marion became executive director of the Barr Foundation in 2000 and served in that role until she retired in June of 2008. “Our sense of loss is only exceeded by our gratitude for the privilege of working closely with Marion as our first Executive Director at Barr," says Barbara Hostetter, President of the Barr Foundation. "Her DNA will always be in our work. We will miss her and we will honor and protect her legacy."

Before she left Barr, Marion composed a memo reflecting on what had changed at the foundation and in Boston during her tenure. In it, she noted, “I have always said that the mark of a good executive director is that he or she can walk out the door and no one will notice or care that they have gone.”

She was wrong on both counts. In ways uncountable, we are all beneficiaries of the foundation she envisioned and shepherded into being. As Marion walks out this door, we all notice. We are bereft that she has gone.

We now have 185 Match Corps that are finishing up their August training. From the vibe I'm picking up, they seem ready for a year of service -- sitting side-by-side with kids, hour after hour, helping them make big learning gains as measured by all the tests, but also making harder-to-measure gains in character. We're indebted always to folks like Marion who were early investors in our ideas.