FARMINGTON – Marla Damaris Ferris, of Farmington, passed away on May 12, 2021, after a heroic battle with cancer. She was 59 years old. Marla was the daughter of Charles G. Ferris, a retired merchant marine originally from Madison, Maine, who subsequently owned what is now Annie’s market in Kingfield, and ran Ferris Realty, a successful real estate brokerage, and Jean Winter Ferris, one of the co-owners of H. G. Winter and Sons Manufacturing in Kingfield.
Marla had a charmed and beautiful childhood, enjoying all of the amenities of the Kingfield area, such as swimming at the “girls swimming hole“ and “White Railing“, biking, skiing at Sugarloaf, and participating in myriad extracurricular activities in her beloved hometown. A 1980 graduate of Mt. Abram High School, she was an excellent student, possessed of a keen intellect, and matriculated to Boston University in the Fall of 1980 as an English/women’s studies major. She graduated from B.U. in 1984. After graduation, Marla worked in the corporate world of Boston for a year-and-a-half, before gleefully returning to Kingfield, and subsequently Farmington, in order to teach high school English at Mount Abram, her alma mater, in Salem, Maine.
Marla was a dutiful and loving daughter to her parents, a passionate, steadfast and loyal partner, a caring and fiercely protective sister to her siblings, and the most adoring and doting “Auntie” to her nephew and two nieces. She loved passionately and was always deeply involved in the lives of her numerous friends and family. Marla was a fantastic listener, an unparalleled confidante, and a sage advisor to those she loved, which included her students during her 34 years of teaching at Mount Abram High School. Teaching was a profession for which Marla truly existed. She was loved by her students, and took particular joy in helping them to gain admission to the post secondary institutions most suited to their particular strengths. She was the teacher they sought out for a heartfelt and compelling college recommendation letter. Marla loved teaching, as her retirement letter of March 25, 2020 clearly attests. We include it here, in toto:
March 25th, 2020
To: Superintendent Todd Sanders and the MSAD 58 Board of Directors
It is with an admittedly heavy heart that I inform you of my retirement, as a teacher of English, effective March 31st, 2020.
For the past 34 years, it has been my enormous pleasure and privilege to have taught junior and senior English at Mt. Abram High School. In the mid-1980s, following my graduation from Boston University with a BA in English, I accepted a position in the corporate sector in Boston. My salary, replete with stock options, was more than three times my eventual beginning teachers’ salary, yet I knew that I had to leave that position because, while it gave me significant financial security, it failed to nourish my spirit. When, shortly after, I applied for and eagerly accepted the position of English teacher at Mt. Abram High School, I knew that I had found the life’s work for which I was intended. I experienced a deep satisfaction in both the nature of the job and in my recognition that the students, faculty, and community of this district comprise a population toward whom I feel great loyalty and commitment. When I took a one-year sabbatical, some twenty-odd years later, to earn a Master’s degree at the University of Southern Maine in Clinical Counseling and Psychology, I knew that it was a pursuit that would further enrich my teaching, as well as my greater role in the MSAD 58 community, and it did. Perhaps all of this is offered to say that my life has been intricately interwoven with our school district for over three decades, and if it were not for insurmountable health issues, I would not be leaving it now.
Please accept my deep thanks and appreciation for the bonds we have forged over the years of my career. Teaching is a profession that offers great fulfillment to its practitioners; I will ever feel a deep sense of connectedness to the MSAD 58 community, and gratitude for the ability to have taught subjects that I adore to countless, deserving students of endless potential who easily and permanently captured my heartfelt affection and respect.
Marla D. Ferris; MS, BA
Teacher of English
Many of Marla’s students have graciously reached out to her family after her death to recount the numerous instances in which she served them as a mentor, life coach, and advisor, always offering a willing ear and a Safe Harbor, free of judgment or the fear of recrimination. Marla loved her students and they clearly loved her.
Marla earned her Masters degree in social work at the University of Southern Maine while she was teaching, and remained a lifelong learner and student, reading voraciously, and traveling the world during her sabbaticals and vacations. Marla loved to travel. She toured Europe repeatedly and lived for several months in Paris and Ireland. She traveled extensively in the U.S. and enjoyed vacationing in Canada, the Caribbean and Morocco. She was a student of culture and human nature, enjoying nothing so much as a leisurely brunch or a dinner in an outdoor café, simply watching passers-by and learning the rhythms of life in other parts of the world. She had a nearly insatiable curiosity and zest for life. She abhorred a bully, and was the constant champion of the under-privileged and under-served. She was true to herself and comfortable in her own skin.
Marla loved music. She was an accomplished saxophonist and enjoyed live musical performances. She also loved social gatherings, and when the two were combined on Thursday evenings at her beloved “Homestead Restaurant“ in Farmington, she would smile and dance as she moved from table to table, greeting friends, both old and new. She was an artist in every part of her being, and it showed in her every day life and in the simplest of tasks. She was adept at finding the beauty in others and then sharing it with them. Her beautiful home in Farmington was her sanctuary. Every painting and object was symbolically possessed with meaning and thoughtfulness. She had exemplary style.
Marla was predeceased by her beloved father, and brother-in-law, Carl H. Lane, Jr., and leaves behind her mother; her partner, Nancy Dykstra, of Winthrop, Maine, two siblings, Rosemary Ferris Lane, of Richboro, Pennsylvania and Charles Thomas Ferris,, of Waterville, Maine; her sister-in-law, Cassie Julia-Ferris of Waterville; two nieces, Meghan Lane–Danz and her husband Benjamin, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Sophia Damaris Ferris, of Waterville, Maine; a nephew, Charles A. Ferris, of Waterville, Maine; and many cousins and countless friends, all of whom she loved unconditionally. We will miss her.
Per request of Marla and the family, there will be no public services. There will be a private remembrance for family members this summer.
Memories may be shared in her Book of Memories at http://www.wlesrc.com. Cremation care has been provided by the Wiles Remembrance Center: Adams~McFarlane Chapel, 137 Farmington Falls Road, Farmington.
In lieu of flowers, please consider donating to Webster Public Library in Kingfield, ME at WebsterLibraryKingfield.org/Donate or Webster Library, PO Box 518, Kingfield, ME 04947.