Marilyn Louise (Taylor) Heskett—educator and book conservator—died on July 3 surrounded by her family at her home in Sarasota, Florida at the age of 88. Her body was buried several days later at Mount Auburn Cemetery inher long-time home, Cambridge, Massachusetts. Having survived a bout with breast cancer, she succumbed to the combined effects of a 17-year battle with Parkinson’s Disease, the end of which was hastened by an early case of Covid-19.
Born in Chariton, Iowa, the daughter of Fred and Willa (Foster) Taylor, Marilyn was a woman of many interests and accomplishments. At one time she was the co-owner of a successful children’s clothing store.
Her family, teaching, and books dominated her life. She is survived by her husband, James of Sarasota, her three children—Sarah of Boston, Charles of New York City, and Ben and daughter-in-law Katie of Charleston, S. C.--a sister, Kathy Betzer of Des Moines Iowa, and two grandchildren, Olivia and Sam, of Poughquag, New York.
After graduating from Iowa State Teachers College with a teaching certificate and San Jose State University with a major in geography, she taught first-graders at the Fair Avenue Elementary School in Columbus, Ohio. Later, after receiving a Master’s Degree from the Harvard School of Education, she specialized in teaching adult literacy in a program offered by Tufts University.
But her interests always centered around books. So a third career beckoned. At the age of 50, she returned to the North Bennet Street School in Boston to study the art and craft of bookbinding. Her study there led to a year-long internship at the Library of Congress in Washington, D. C., followed by a position creating and managing a laboratory for the preservation of rare books at the Byrnes Library on the campus of Boston College.
Her personal heart was with her family, but her professional heart was with the bookbinders studying at the North Bennet Street School, where she established a scholarship program in 2013. In lieu of flowers or other gifts, she would have greatly appreciated contributions to the Marilyn L. Heskett Scholarship Fund at the North Bennet Street School, 150 North Street, Boston, MA 02109.