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Marjorie Lyman

September 21, 1931 — June 5, 2024


Marjorie Lyman

Marjorie Whyte Scott Lyman

September 12, 1931 – June 5, 2024

Marjory Whyte Scott was the second of four children (Helen, Marjory, Richard, John) born to James and Catherine (nee Gray) Scott in Edinburgh, the capital city of Scotland. Her father registered her birth as “Marjorie,” but she lived her life as “Marjory.” She grew up during World War II and would learn how to wear a gas mask on her way to school, drop to the curb during an air raid, and boo the “Jerries” (the Germans) whose bombers flew overhead. Her father built a bomb shelter in the back green of their tenement on Moat Drive but planted vegetables on the shelter’s roof to camouflage it from the bombers above.

During the height of the war, Marjory and her sister Helen were evacuated to the Beehive in Dolphinton to be cared for by her Auntie Jean and Uncle Dan. She was a member of the Girls’ Training Corps circa 1947 when she and her colleagues stood at attention as Prince Phillip passed by their entourage on the streets of Edinburgh (and she had the photograph to prove it).

She was a proud graduate of Tynecastle Senior Secondary School and then worked for many years at the Church of Scotland offices. One of Marjory’s friends had accumulated too many pen pals, so she passed some of them out to others, including Marjory, who then began corresponding with a young farm boy in Otto, Wyoming named Wayne Lyman.  

In 1956, Marjory decided to emigrate to Canada. By this time, Wayne had moved to Bakersfield, California joining his mother and two of his sisters. The two pen pals decided to meet half-way, when the RMS Ivernia docked in Montreal, Quebec. Wayne told her that she could recognize him by his blue suede shoes. Seven days after their first meeting, they were married at the home of another of Wayne’s sisters in Galesburg, Illinois, with dinner at the Galesburg Country Club. 

Marjory’s travel documents did not allow her to stay long in the United States; so while Wayne returned to Bakersfield, Marjory went to Winnipeg, Manitoba to look for work and find a place to live while her visa was processed. She rejoined Wayne on Christmas Eve 1956 when she arrived by train. At that time, Wayne lived with his mother on Monterey Street in East Bakersfield, but the newly-married couple soon moved to an apartment on Beale Avenue, which was close to the Southern Pacific Depot on Baker Street where Wayne worked. 

Marjory announced her marriage to her parents in a letter. When her mother saw the letter was from “Mrs. Lyman,” she wondered why Wayne’s mother was writing. The reaction in Scotland to this marriage was not positive.

Marjory’s mother did not believe in the traditional Heaven or Hell, but said “you make your own Heaven or Hell on this earth.” Marjory’s first summer in Bakersfield found her both pregnant and dealing with the city’s heat with no air conditioning. She decided she had, indeed, come to “the burning fire.” 

For a short time, Marjory worked at “Woolie’s” (Woolworth’s) in downtown Bakersfield. A year after her arrival in Bakersfield, Marjory and Wayne welcomed son David, but when daughter Donna arrived three years hence, the apartment was too small so they moved about a mile north to a house on Water Street. 

Marjory liked to sing, but her mother always whispered “not so loud” when Marjory belted it out in church. Her favorite lullaby was “Onward Christian Soldiers.” Years later, David and Donna have tried to understand what was to be gained from singing about “going off to war” to tiny children. Her favorite Shakespeare quote was from Macbeth that begins, “Is this a dagger I see before me, the handle toward my hand?” Her children knew this one by heart.

Marjory took great interest in everyone she met. When someone said they had a boyfriend or girlfriend, Marjory would suggest they bring them by to meet her, and many of them did. It was not uncommon for the kids to come home from school to find strangers sitting in the living room. Marjory would invite those proselytizing door-to-door to come in for tea. She would say that, while she did not always agree with what they were saying, she enjoyed chatting with them. 

Marjory was a room mother at Myra A. Noble School and assisted with David’s Cub Scout and Donna’s Brownie activities. She also was involved with Saturday Adventurers and was a Primary teacher at the LDS Church on Bernard Street, where Wayne and the kids were members. Many people would later be surprised that Marjory was not a church member, as she participated in Relief Society and other church activities, as well as teaching Primary. When asked why she never joined the church, Marjory replied,” I don’t understand why drinking my tea will keep me out of Heaven.”

In 1965, she earned her U.S. citizenship. At the time, the U.S. did not recognize dual citizenship, so Marjory had to renounce her British citizenship, which was very painful for her.

She was a founding member of the Sir Edward Elgar Chapter of the Daughters of the British Empire in Bakersfield and served in several capacities, including Regent, and regularly attended the chapter’s meetings. Even after the local DBE chapter disbanded due to declining membership, the remaining members met monthly for lunch and Marjory attended until she was no longer able. She was an ardent royalist who always displayed a picture of Queen Elizabeth II in the Lyman home and, as such, was an opponent of Scottish independence. Every December 31, she celebrated Hogmanay (Scottish New Year) at 4 p.m., which was midnight in Scotland, with a toast of fizzy drinks, along with shortbread, fly cemetery pastries, and the music of Jimmy Shand. 

Until the mid-1970’s, Marjory did not drive, so she and the kids were frequent bus riders, usually to medical and dental appointments, and Marjory used these times to quiz her kids on their multiplication tables. It was a joke that she held the world’s record for the most learner’s permit extensions. But whether she was driving or not, Marjory had no sense of direction. Like many of her DBE sisters, she did not know north from south and only dealt with left or right. Her children still wonder how her countrymen were able to colonize half the world without any apparent sense of direction. 

Whether on the bus or in waiting rooms, Marjory always had her knitting. Whether it was the way she held her needles (the European way, under her arms), the speed of the needles clicking, or her being able to talk to others without seeming to look at what she was doing, people nearby were fascinated watching her knit. 

When Wayne became ill and was unable to continue working, Marjory began working at the JM’s Just for Children store in East Hills Village. When that store closed, she moved to the JM’s store on Wible Road where she became a department manager. During her more than 25 years at JM’s, she sold baby furniture, clothes, and accessories to countless parents, some of whom continued to send Marjory Christmas cards many years later. Despite her fears, she mastered the store’s computerized system, but could not handle calls asking for directions to the store; she had to ask Wayne to provide written directions from various points to keep on hand for those calls. 

Wayne died in 2009 after 52 years of marriage. A few years later, Marjory moved to Columbus Estates where she became one of its longest-tenured (but not oldest) residents. 

Marjory was the last remaining of the four Scott siblings, and the last spouse of Wayne’s ten-member clan. She is survived by son David, daughter Donna Semar and son-in-law Scott, all of Bakersfield; granddaughter Lauren Semar of Las Vegas, Nevada and grandson Morgan Semar and his wife Jenny of St. George, Utah; and several nieces, nephews and cousins in the U.S., U.K., and Australia. 

 When asked where she lived, Marjory’s proud response was, “East Bakersfield. God’s country.” Aside from her time in assisted living, Marjory always lived east of Union Avenue. When asked why she came to Bakersfield, she replied, “Love. But I would have killed my daughter if she had done the same thing.” And her secret for such a long marriage? “I had to make it work,” she said. “I couldn’t just run home to mother.”

Special thanks from Marjory’s family to Advent Residence Home for their care during Marjory’s last months. At her request, there will be no services. To remember Marjory, consider celebrating Hogmanay every December 31 with a toast and a wish for health and happiness to all in the new year.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Marjorie Lyman, please visit our flower store.


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