by Marie Darlin
Marjorie Tillotsen was born December 19, 1901, on a homestead near Mt. Hood, Oregon, the youngest of three children. She earned both Bachelor and Master of Science degrees from the University of Oregon in Eugene. She taught one year in Guatemala for the United Fruit Company before coming to Juneau in 1930 to teach high school math.
During her teaching years in Juneau, she spent one year as an exchange teacher at Newport News, Virginia. In 1953-1954, she took a year’s leave of absence and went on a world tour, spending four months in Beirut, Lebanon in an office job.
Marjorie was an active member of the Alaska Education Association which later became NEA-Alaska. In 1944, she was appointed Chairman of the Retirement Study Committee and in 1945, the first Alaska Teachers’ Retirement Act was passed. In 1950, she was the first classroom teacher elected as president of the association. She immediately began the publication of an association bulletin, which later became the Alaska Teacher magazine.
Marjorie retired from teaching in 1961, and then was employed by the State Department of Education until 1964, when she spent the 1964-65 school year as secretary to Superintendent Bill Overstreet. Upon final retirement, she began another six month world tour to Europe and Asia, revisiting Beirut.
As a volunteer researcher for the State Historical Library, she wrote a history of the local schools. She lived for many years at Thane, at what she called Wishbone Falls, near the end of the road. Her main interests were writing, photography and traveling. In 1981, she moved to the Sitka Pioneer Home and in 1988, entered the Juneau Pioneer Home. Upon her death in November, 1989, her will provided for the renovation of the Sitka Pioneer Home Chapel, which was named in her memory. She is buried at the Sitka Memorial Park.
The 1993 publication of teacher stories, Alaska Experiences by Juneau Teachers, was dedicated to Marjorie Tillotsen, in recognition of her contributions to teaching and research.