Marilyn Lee (Forte) Brockway, age 76, wife, mother, sister, grandmother, lover of flowers and animals, librarian and friend passed away on Feb. 15, 2023.
She is survived by her three children: Elizabeth L. Follansbee (Antonio), Dana Robert Colarulli (Nancy Drane), and Katie I. Brockway (Mona); her grandchildren Ailinn and Braeden Colarulli; her sister Elaine Vendetti (Jeff), brother James Forte (Nancy), and brother-in-law Anthony DiIorio; and many nieces, nephews and cousins. She was predeceased by her husband of 40 years, Kenneth H. Brockway, her parents Samuel and Lee Forte, and her sister, Donna DiIorio (Anthony).
Marilyn had a loving heart, a warm presence and, throughout her life, was passionate about serving her community. Marilyn actively and proudly engaged in a variety of organizations including as a past president of the Portsmouth Garden Club (multiple terms), past president of the Portsmouth Public Education Foundation, and on the board of the Robert Potter League for Animals. She cared deeply about participating in her community and leaving behind a positive impact where she could. Whether that was organizing and fundraising for beautification projects in Portsmouth on behalf of the garden club or increasing resources available to support local teachers and students, she sought to do what she could to make Portsmouth a beautiful and vibrant community. Plants were just one of Marilyn’s many passions. She loved the Audrey Hepburn quote: “To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.”
Marilyn received her Bachelor of Arts in 1968 and then a Masters of Library Science in 1972 from the University of Rhode Island. She began her career as a children’s librarian. A colleague once noted that “her calm and engaging manner” allowed her to effectively instill a love of books in the youngest among us. She was particularly proud to have served as a children’s librarian at the Redwood Library in Newport where she reestablished the children’s collection and developed community programs for children. Always learning and growing, Marilyn also reinvented herself throughout her life, with various roles in Rhode Island and during her time living in New York.
A caring, brave, and driven individual, she unapologetically prioritized her children, husband, grandchildren, and family on her daily “To Do” lists. She believed in one’s ability to chart their own destiny and to leave their mark. She touched many lives along her journey with her thoughtfulness, warm smile, and loving personality. Marilyn, Ken, and Elizabeth have been active parishioners at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church. Marilyn loved and cherished the friendships she built at St. Paul’s and in the Portsmouth Garden Club. Following Ken’s death, Marilyn petitioned and received approval from the State of Rhode Island and the Town of Portsmouth to revitalize a garden at the intersection of East Main Road and Church Lane in memory of her husband. Her family is happy that it will continue as a beautiful reminder of both Marilyn and Ken.
In lieu of flowers, per Marilyn’s wishes, you may make a donation to the Portsmouth Garden Club, P.O. Box 826, Portsmouth, RI 02871, to support the long-term maintenance of this garden, or to St. Paul’s Episcopal Church for the Altar Guild.
Receiving hours were at Connors Funeral Home, Portsmouth, R.I. on Feb. 19. A memorial service was held Feb. 20 at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Portsmouth. The service was livestreamed and recorded at link.memorial/brockway. A private burial immediately followed the service.
Additional information at memorialfuneralhome.com.