BAR HARBOR — Marian Louisa Stanley Burns, 88, died Nov. 1, 2015, in Bar Harbor. She was born July 11, 1927, the daughter of George Mason Stanley and Dorothy (Hodgkins) Stanley and sister of Barbara Marjorie Stanley Neal (predeceased). She grew up in Bar Harbor and graduated from Bar Harbor High School as salutatorian of her 1945 class. The family joke was she was beat out for valedictorian by only 1/16th of a point, as a new student transferred from the West Coast. Marian went to the University of Maine at Orono, winning a scholarship, and graduated in 1945 with a BS in chemical engineering, a field mostly dominated by men at the time.
In June 1949, she married Howell S. Burns, who had enlisted in the U.S. Coast Guard commandos unit during WWII and had been stationed at Egg Rock Lighthouse at that time.
While living in Machias, Marian was asked by the superintendent of schools to come teach in the public school system. Although she had no teacher training, Marian launched a 30-year career in the areas of math and science in Washington, Hancock, Androscoggin and Cumberland counties. At the end of her teaching years, Marian had acquired a master’s and taught special education at Greeley High School in Cumberland.
Innovation was the hallmark of Marian’s teaching. She went beyond the walls of her classroom to teach taxidermy, biology, chemistry, physics, oceanography or math. Whatever it took to find out the “why” and her students had to understand that why. Her philosophy was that knowledge could be ageless, without limits and boundaries and that nothing in life had to always be in standardized form. For the rest of her life, students came back to tell Marian that she was the most influential teacher they ever had and that at least for some, she had changed their lives.
During her Greeley High School years, Marian met and developed a lifelong friendship with another teacher, Judy Holmes. They went on to teach at the university level about how to instruct students to be responsible for their own learning and behavior and game-free teaching. Her lifelong passion for teaching remained evident; she was planning a webpage business with Judy to teach parents how to help their children learn that was to be launched in 2015.
Marian’s curiosity and love of learning never stopped. In the early ’60s, she developed the idea of creating a living classroom landscape for the grounds of Conners Emerson School in Bar Harbor and made sure her children planted a tree in the garden. Marian was on the original committee that founded today’s Wild Gardens of Acadia. A lifelong lover of gardening, Marian spent one summer camping at Blackwoods Campgrounds to design and create the bog portion of the gardens that now include yellow lady slippers. She also brought in yellow violets and Pyrola. In the ’80s, Marian had ferns planted along the fence in memory of her mother.
Marian easily shared beliefs she felt important with anyone. Some of her favorites were: “One may not get everything they want but they can always get some.” And “Where there’s a will there’s a way” and “Don’t start counting your mistakes until you have counted to 10” and “I love turtles, for if you never stick your neck out, you will never move ahead.” Marian believed that if you didn’t change your career at least five times in your life, you were doing something wrong.
On Oct. 31, 1980, Marian bought a former summer cottage and Mira Monte Inn was created with just three rooms to rent in 1981. At her death, Marian’s creation had grown into a 20 room bed and breakfast filled with volumes of books as a testimonial to who she was and what she had accomplished. She was always either planning a new project to share with guests or serving as “Mom” for them to come home to. Throughout her varied careers, Marian continued to be involved in her local and state community organizations.
In 2014, Marian received the Maine Innkeepers Association Gus Tillman Hall of Fame Award. On the plaque is written: “Marian has been an integral part of our leadership team for many years. Marian was honored with Innkeeper of the Year Award in 1994 and served as President of the association in 1998. Marian received the Association’s Community Service Award for her work with Hospitality for Habitat, which has raised over $100,000.” In 2010, she earned the Cadillac Award from the Bar Harbor Chamber of Commerce for excellence, leadership, service and sacrifice. Marian led the Fourth of July parade as grand marshal in 2011.
She will be missed by her beloved cat of 18 years, Miss Monte; her three children Prescott and wife, Kathleen; Steven and wife, Ann; Lynda and partner Bruce; her grandson Gregory and wife, Nivea; granddaughter Julie and husband, Jason; great-granddaughter Hadley as well as nephews, cousins, friends and all who knew her.
A memorial service celebrating Marian’s life will be held on Saturday, Nov. 21, 2015, at 10 a.m. at St. Saviour’s Episcopal Church, Mount Desert St., Bar Harbor, reception following in the church’s parish hall. Donations in lieu of flowers may be made to the Maine Innkeepers Association Habitat for Humanity fund or animal shelter of your choice.