Marjorie Baum Rynearson
Marjorie Baum Rynearson was born in Des Moines, Iowa to Frederick and Josephine Baum on June 22, 1935. The young family moved to Clear Lake, Iowa where Marjie grew up and graduated High School. She and her two sisters grew up on the lake and lived the small, Midwest town lifestyle. She graduated from University of Minnesota with a B.A. in Theater in 1957. It was at UofM where she met her husband of almost 60 years, Robert Repp Rynearson. They were married in 1956.
In 1958, Marjie and Bob had their first son, Edward H. Rynearson, II. The three of them moved to Seattle for Bob’s internship at Virginia Mason Hospital. When they returned to Rochester in 1959, Marjie began her life in theater, acting in several productions at the Rochester Civic Theater. Their second and third sons, James F. Rynearson and Philip H. Rynearson were both born in Rochester, MN.
In 1965, Bob and Marjie moved to Temple. Inspired by her years at Rochester Civic Theater, and with amazing determination and considerable work and community support, Marjie Rynearson founded the Temple Civic Theater in November of 1968, under the umbrella of the Cultural Activities Center.
Assembling a team of civic leaders as founding board members, and with the enthusiastic support of the CAC board, the theater began its now long history with a production of “You Can’t Take It With You.” As with many early productions, Marjie was both “leading actor” and director, and quickly drew a solid following of fellow actors, production folks, and audiences. Three shows were produced that first year. Over her many years at Temple Civic Theater, Marjie touched thousands of lives of audience members and fellow thespians – cast, crew, and staff.
They had their fourth son in 1969, Robert R. Rynearson, Jr. As her sons grew, she spent more and more time pursuing a career in advertising, theater, and film. She started “The Ad Agency” in the 70’s which she later sold, providing advertising agency services to Temple organizations. After selling The Ad Agency in the late 80’s, Marjie surprised everyone when she moved to Chicago to fulfill her goal of a more complete theater life. Bob and their sons gave her their full support and encouragement.
A few of Marjie’s accomplishments are as follows. Marjie was the winner of the Norfolk Southern New Plays Competition for her play, JENNY. Jenny was subsequently professionally produced at Norfolk’s theater festival in Roanoke and by several professional regional theater in the US and Canada. For their medical film “Hypochondriasis and Health Care – A Tug of War” Marjie and Bob were awarded the CINE (Council on International Nontheatrical Events) Golden Eagle Award and won a Silver Medal at the American Medical Film Festival.
Marjie won “Best Actress” in a religious feature film for her leading role in “A Father, A Son, and a Three Mile Run” in 1983. She performed in Chicago theatres such as Victory Gardens and Steppenwolf, and appeared in print, television ads and film. Most recent national ad was for Aleve, and most recent film was ROAD TO PERDITION starring Paul Newman and Tom Hanks. She appeared in RoboCop, and was a main character in “Dallas, The Early Years” a national network TV movie. Her family remembers walking through Union Station in Chicago, looking up, and seeing an enormous indoor billboard featuring a 20-foot-high Marjorie in an ad for a major hospital.
In addition to writing and acting, Marjie was an accomplished dramaturg and teacher. She is a past president of the board of Chicago Dramatist, a non-profit that supports theater professionals in Chicago. She taught students at the Chicago Academy for the Arts and Wells High School, coached playwrights at Victory Gardens Theater in Chicago, and taught story structure workshops to scores of students upon her return to Temple, Texas.
After decades of “double residency,” Marjie sold her Chicago loft and returned to Temple, Texas to take care of Bob after he fell ill to a rare brain disorder. Her family and friends were inspired by the selfless care and the love and dedication Marjie had for Bob until his death on June 24, 2016.
Now back from Chicago, Marjie rejoined Temple Civic Theater, appearing in several productions and co-writing and co-producing several well-received plays with her dear friend, Gary Gosney. One of her proudest moments of all was, just back from Chicago, walking on stage at TCT for opening night of “Arsenic and Old Lace” and, before saying her first line, was greeted by a prolonged standing ovation from a house full of her biggest fans – all happy to see her back on her home stage.
In 2013, Marjorie published Gentle Vignettes (And Some Not So Gentle), a collection of short stories, where she shared her most personal memories of her full and rich life.
Marjie was a powerful role model for her four sons. She introduced the family to all the fine arts, even taking the whole clan to New York City for week-long vacations packed with 8 broadway shows and full day visits to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Natural History, and “The Modern.” The four sons all had piano lessons and were dragged by the ear to Symphony and Ballet performances around the state. There is no memory of Opera.
Bob and Marjie built a ceramic studio and a silk screen studio at their home. Later, with Marjie’s encouragement, Bob spent his last twenty-five years sculpting massive pieces of Italian marble into rich, archetypal, iconic pieces of art that fill the family sculpture garden and home – some now displayed in the City of Temple Park behind Scott & White. All four sons threw pots and made prints, and Bob Jr. became a glass blower.
Marjie was a great wife, a loving mother, and a caring grandmother, and she will truly be missed.
Marjorie passed away Mother’s Day, Sunday, May 10, 2020 in her sleep from end stage dementia. She was 84 years old.
Marjie is survived by her two sisters, four sons, and nine grandchildren.
Please send donations in honor of Marjie to the Temple Civic Theater.