Marlene Sylvain Varone
August 27, 1936 – June 7, 2021
Marlene Sylvain Varone passed away peacefully at her home in Santa Rosa, California after a long battle with cancer. She was born in Reno, NV and spent her early years in Goldfield, NV at a time when it really was the Wild West. In 1936, Goldfield was a rough mining town of about 800 residents, and her father was the only doctor in town. At the age of four, the family moved to Carson City, where her father accepted the position of State Epidemiologist. In 1942 they moved to Las Vegas, a city on the move that is growing with the completion of the Hoover Dam. Her father became a partner in the first private hospital in Las Vegas. As Marlene would say, Las Vegas was still a small town and it seemed like everyone knew everyone. After graduating from elementary school in what is now a government historic building, she attended Las Vegas High School, the only high school in the city. Here she made lifelong friendships. After graduating from high school, Marlene attended the University of Arizona and graduated with honors and a degree in education.
Marlene liked to tell friends that she was employed by an engineering company under contract with the Atomic Energy Commission during the summer vacation and that she was one of the few people who saw an atomic bomb detonate.
After college, Marlene traveled to Berkeley, CA with several friends and shared an apartment while she worked as a secretary. It was at this time that she met her future husband, Richard Varone. They got very close, but her mother’s sudden death prompted her to return home to take care of her father and her two brothers.
She started teaching elementary school children and was also pursuing a master’s degree from the University of Nevada. One of her favorite stories is that Frank Sinatra was awarded an honorary doctorate at the same time as Marlene and others. She taught for 15 years and became popular with many young students.
Marlene didn’t help start the Junior Mesquite Club and was an active member of the Las Vegas Junior League, both of which were involved in charitable projects in Las Vegas.
Marlene and Dick eventually got back together, married in Carmel, CA, and had 44 wonderful years together in Santa Rosa. They were long-time members of the Santa Rosa Country Club and the Wild Oak Saddle Club, where they enjoyed the company of many friends. They loved to travel and visited numerous countries by ship and plane and made friends along the way.
Marlene was brilliant at bridge and was also an excellent tennis player and played competitively for her La Cantera tennis team. She also played golf and was in love with her group of eight close friends who traveled to different golf resorts in the state of California each year.
Marlene was loved by everyone who knew her. She was a person for whom life was always one adventure after another. She was eager to tell everyone who listened to her the fun things that would happen to her and was never afraid to make herself the target of the story. She was kind, loving, and thoughtful, and always concerned about the well-being of others. She will be missed and forever in our hearts.
She leaves behind her husband Richard Varone, stepson Rich, brothers Gerald R. Sylvain (wife Judy) and Robert Sylvain, sister D’anne Walley (Keith), step-sisters Debby Starzynski and Jill Robbin (Doug) and numerous nieces and nephews.
Instead of flowers, the family asks that they make a donation to a charity of their choice.
Published by Press Democrat June 27 to June 30, 2021.