Longtime Gary Public School educator and guidance counselor Mother Marilyn Ashe Hairston was passionate about her family, God, and her job.
“Those were the three things she loved most.” her son Bishop Norman J. Hairston II said.
Hairston, 86, of Gary, was devoted to her late husband of 47 years, Rev. Dr. Norman L. Hairston, Sr., taking care of him from 2003 to 2008 when he was ill.
“She refused to let anyone else take of him,” Hairston II said. “She wanted to do it herself.”
The couple met when he was an associate minister at the First Baptist Church.
“Mom was a member of Galilee Baptist Church,” her son said. “Someone told her there was a young man in town who was preaching at their church and the friend introduced them.”
Hairston said his parents loved staying at home, playing board games, talking and sharing meals.
Hairston sang, played the piano and was the first musician for Gary’s Male Chorus, Hairston II said.
A member of Delta Sigma Theta and the Urban League, Hairston began her 46-year career in education at Froebel High School as a music teacher. She then became a guidance counselor at West Side High School.
“She went beyond the call of duty to make sure the children were prepared for school.
“I just found a couple of letters from students thanking her for helping them,” Hairston II said. “One was a student who did not have proper clothes. My mom made sure she had clothes to come to school. Another young man shared with me his mom had mental and alcohol problems and remembers my mom encouraging him to keep doing well in school despite his family problems.”
Hairston II said he admired his mom’s honesty.
“If she didn’t like something, she would tell you,” Hairston II said.
Hairston said his mother taught him to be true to what you believe, be honest and to trust in the Lord.