By Missy Schrott | [email protected]
Marjorie Ann Harris, an Alexandria native and 55-year member of the Board of Lady Managers at Inova Alexandria Hospital, died of ovarian cancer at Inova Alexandria Hospital on Saturday. She was 92.
Harris was born in the old Alexandria hospital on Feb. 26, 1925 to Max and Victoria Salomonsohn. She graduated from George Washington High School in 1942 and went on to attend Strayer Business College. She worked for the Federal Housing Administration until her daughter, Vicki Lee Warren, was born in 1955.
“She was the best mother in the world. She was my best friend,” Warren said.
Harris was an active community member in Alexandria, especially in her involvement with the Board of Lady Managers at the hospital. The board helped found Inova Alexandria Hospital in 1872 and has been working to support and improve it in the 140 years since.
Harris was a member of the board up until her death. She spent two two-year terms as president from 1969 to 1970 and again from 1997 to 1998. When she was recognized for her service five years ago, she had been the first member to hit the 50-year benchmark, according to Cynthia Puskar, another member and former president of the board.
Puskar said Harris never missed a meeting unless she was hospitalized with cancer or out of town visiting her daughter.
“She always wore her high heels,” Puskar said. “She was always dressed to the nines like they were 40 years ago … Even when she was sick and getting treatment, she came and was so positive about her future and never complained so I had no idea she was still struggling.”
One of the greatest contributions Harris made to the board over her last 10 years was serving as chair for the annual brunch committee, according to Puskar. She said she brought in more money in her two years spearheading the fundraiser than any previous chair had during the past decade.
“She was in her 80s, she put her mind to it, she knew how it should be done, and she just took charge. If she said she’d do something, she’d do it,” Puskar said.
“I used to always tell her she was my role model,” she said. “If I could have her spunk and spirit at her age, that’s what I needed. You want to live a full life, and she definitely did.”
In addition to serving on the Board of Lady Managers, Harris was a member of the 1872 Society of Inova Alexandria Hospital.
Beyond the hospital, Harris’s community involvement included being a member of Beth El Hebrew Congregation and their Sisterhood, the Alexandria Salvation Army Auxiliary (where she also served as president), the Symphony Orchestra League of Alexandria and the George Washington High School Alumni Association.
Warren praised her mother’s giving spirit and energetic attitude, especially as she grew older. She said Harris loved to go out to eat in Old Town with friends and family and had been a regular at Theismann’s restaurant.
“She was very outgoing, friendly. She had many, many friends,” Warren said, “And she liked to go, she did like to travel, she liked football, spectator sports.”
Harris was a Washington Redskins season ticket holder since 1962 and a devoted Alabama Crimson Tide fan.
Harris spent her whole life in the heart of Alexandria, growing up at 520 N. Washington St. and spending her childhood taking evening walks along King Street. When asked what her mother’s favorite thing about Alexandria had been, Warren replied, “I think she liked everything about it. She never left. She’s been here for 92, almost 93 years.”
Harris was predeceased by her first husband, Clyde Kenneth Warren; her second husband, Paul McNeil Harris; and her stepsons, Stephen Harris and Paul “PM” McNeil Harris, Jr.
She is survived by her daughter, Vicki Lee Warren; her stepsons, Michael Harris and Phillip Harris; her step-granddaughter, Asheley MacDougall; her step-great-grandchildren, Teighan, Takota, Tate and Tristan; her adopted granddaughter, Christine Wasilewski and her adopted great grandchild, Peyton.
A memorial service at Everly-Wheatley Funeral Home followed by interment at Home of Peace Cemetery will take place Nov. 30 beginning at 12:30 p.m.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorial contributions be made to The Board of Lady Managers Cancer Fund, Beth El Hebrew Congregation Endowment Fund or the charity of your choice.