Marilyn Bristow Saturday, June 29, 1935 - Monday, April 10, 2017
Marilyn H. Bristow, R.N., passed away quietly, with her husband at her bedside in their home in Rossmoor on Monday evening, April 10, 2017. She had developed a Dementia eight (8) years earlier and its complications caused progressive debility so that the final three years were particularly difficult for her. Characteristically, she fought to maintain her communication and "connectedness" to her family and loved ones to the very end. She had been born in Upper New York State on June 29, 1935, and her parents soon moved to the Yonkers, New York community where she grew up. She chose a career in Nursing and attended the St. Vincent School of Nursing at St. Vincent's Hospital in New York City, receiving her R.N. diploma in 1957. Initially she worked in her special area of interest (Pediatric Nursing) but, after a time, decided to try a spell of General Duty nursing as Charge Nurse on a Medical Male patients ward in the VA Hospital in the Bronx, N.Y... It was there she met her future husband, Dr. Lonnie Bristow, who was in his last year of training as a specialist in Internal Medicine. They courted, fell in love and five (5) months later, she flew to California to join him where they married in San Francisco, and started their lives together. They were a "Medical Family". She continued her nursing career, initially working in her special interest of Pediatric Nursing in Brookside Hospital in San Pablo, CA (where they were living). Soon, her husband decided to open his own office in a solo practice and, being a great judge of talent, he hired Marilyn as his Office Nurse, Office Manager, CEO, and Accountant. A couple of years later, her pregnancy in 1965 required that she discontinue working in the office to devote her prime time to the important role of childrearing at home. Their family had a total of four children: two of their own union (Robert and Lisa) and two from an earlier marriage of Dr. Bristow (Mary and Mark). Tragically, Mark later died in a Motor vehicle accident after just getting into his early 20's. The other three children have subsequently had families of their own. Marilyn is survived by the three children, as well as seven grandchildren and one great-grandchild. Marilyn had one sister (Elaine) who is deceased, as are both of their parents. She has a number of cousins who survive her who live in Upper N.Y. State. Marilyn and Lonnie had a very happy marriage. In addition to his practice, he became increasingly engaged in Medical organizational work, eventually becoming the President of the American Medical Association in 1995. She and the children were his chief support group. Lonnie recalls one day coming home from the office and being met in the kitchen by their 5 years old son, Robert, who very firmly and proudly pronounced, "Dad, you're the "Worka-Boss, and Mom, You are the Cooka-Boss!" (Titles that were accepted by the parents as solemnly as they had been given). That vignette characterized their life as a family: Fun, School, Church, Indian Guides, and periodically enjoying a weekend at their cottage on the Marin Coast, or even spending one summer as a family on a small island (St. Lucia) in the Caribbean, while Dad worked as a volunteer to be the only Doctor in a hospital there, etc., etc. Marilyn was always the glue that held it all together as the "Cooka-Boss". She kept the needs of her children as her primary agenda, but for her husband she also very clearly was the person who very quietly provided the "Wind beneath his Wings" in everything he did. Hers included the self-appointed task of "detail-keeping", - like the remembering of a promise made to their Hair-dresser/Barber friend of many years, Karen Marcum, to bring back for Karen a small memento from a trip to Italy being made by Marilyn and Lonnie (on a rare vacation). That little kindness was a set of cork drink coasters which is still fondly treasured by their friend Karen. Marilyn and Lonnie moved to Rossmoor 25plus years ago and had the extreme good fortunes to find their next door neighbors were the Don and Mary Alexanders. They liked each other and very soon developed the habit of monthly get-togethers for Martinis and conversation, alternating the host duties between the 2 homes. It was a delight that was consistently enjoyed and looked-forward to by the 4 of them for over 20 years – finally ending with the passing of Don Alexander in 2015. Over the years, Marilyn accepted being not only the Cooka-Boss, but also being the "Friend-Maker-and-Keeper Boss". Whether in Rossmoor or on a trip to the Great Wall of China, her quiet gentleness and style were felt by those she encountered more than merely heard or seen. She always tried to leave as a friend. That was her way, Marilyn the "Cooka-Boss"…. She will be missed. Visitation will be held at Hull's Walnut Creek Chapel, 1139 Saranap Ave., Walnut Creek on Weds. April 19th from 5-9 PM with a Vigil at 7 PM. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at St. Anne's Church, 1600 Rossmoor Parkway, Walnut Creek on Friday April 21st at 10:30 AM with interment to follow at Queen of Heaven Cemetery, Lafayette.