Marion Metcalf Young
(April 29, 1927–March 12, 2011)
Marion Young, one of the founders of the Fig Tree Gallery and a member of the local progressive community, died unexpectedly on March 12 after a massive stroke on March 6. Marion was an artist, a gardener, a longtime member of the Unitarian Church and a leader of the Humanists of the San Joaquin Valley. She shared her views in her letters to the editor of the Fresno Bee. Even after Marion’s asthma necessitated a move to the foothills in 1963, Marion and her husband Bill continued to support local progressive organizations and participate in civic, religious and cultural events in Fresno.
Marion was a true New Englander having been born in Burlington, Vt., as the third child of Professors John T. and Ruth C. Metcalf, each of whom had a Ph.D. in psychology. Her elementary school education took place on the third floor of the family’s house in what she called “The Little School.” She had two teachers and a personalized education. She studied for two years at the Art Students League in New York City after having received her B.A. in studio art and art history at Wheaton College in Norton, Mass. Marion taught classes in art at Wagner College on Staten Island and at Wheaton College.
In 1954, while studying painting at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Museum, Marion met Bill, who was then a divinity student. They were married and moved to Fresno in 1957.
Soon after the 1962 opening of the Fig Tree Gallery, a cooperative artists’ gallery that still exists in Fresno, the founding members were commissioned to design and execute a glass-tile mural of a fig tree for Bullard High School. The mural was installed on an outer wall of the school. Marion spent many hours on scaffolding with other members completing the mural. She was gallery historian for many years and documented the mural production with photos and daily journaling. This historical document will be on display at a projected 50th anniversary celebration of the Fig Tree Gallery in 2012.
Marion provided inspiration and guidance for all around her. She mothered her own two sons and the four children of her older sister, Ruth, who died young of cancer. Thus, Marion’s artwork needed to be combined with the challenge of helping a blended family grow up in the foothills east of Auberry, where, except for school and trips to Fresno for music lessons, they were rather isolated. All six of the children went on to various colleges or universities for one or more academic degrees. Marion was proud of all of them.
Remembrances may be made to the Fig Tree Gallery, 644 Van Ness Ave., Fresno, CA 93721, the UU Church of Fresno Building Fund, 2672 E. Alluvial Ave., Clovis, CA 93611, or Hinds Hospice, 1416 W. Twain Ave., Fresno, CA 93711.
A “Celebration of Marion’s Life” will be held at the Unitarian Universalist Church, 2672 E. Alluvial Ave., in Clovis at 2 p.m. on May 21.
Longtime social justice activist Tonee Mello was murdered at his home in Oaxaca, Mexico, on April 11. His body was discovered on April 14 in a well on his own property. Tonee was a founding member of both Food not Bombs and the Needle Exchange in Fresno during the mid-1990s. He started an Anti-Racist Action group in town that organized to confront the KKK and the Aryan Brotherhood when they were active.
Tonee also started the Gaia House and Free Radio Fresno. He helped out with the Living Room when it started as well. Dallas Blanchard, in an e-mail sent out to those who knew Tonee, remembered him saying “When you start receiving awards for your activist work, it’s time to move on.”
Tonee moved to Mexico and was one of the 2005 co-founders of the Oaxaca Study Action Group. He was widely known and admired both in U.S. and Mexican communities for his generosity and willingness to assist those who needed help.
Among Tonee’s belongings, his car, motorcycle and computer were taken. The wall safe had been ripped loose but not opened. The house was not otherwise ransacked. Police investigations are under way.