Marion Harmon McVernon was born on September 1, 1898 in Pittsburgh, PA. She became deaf due to an early childhood illness. She attended and received her elementary and secondary education from Western Pennsylvania School for the Deaf. After graduating in 1918 from WSPD, she was accepted to Gallaudet University in the fall of 1918. She studied to become a home economics teacher. At the end of her junior year, she was asked by Gallaudet's President to teach home economics at Mississippi School for the Deaf. She traveled alone by train with a trunk to Jackson, MS, where she met her future husband, James McVernon. They started a family and moved to Frederick, MD where James became the athletic coach and supervisor of boys at Maryland School for the Deaf. The family moved to the Washington DC area in 1942.
In the spring of 2000, the Gallaudet Office of Alumni Relations decided to update oldest alumni records and discovered that Marion was not listed on Social Security Index Death. The office boldly called Marion's home and Marion's daughter, Dorothy explained that her mother still lived with her and her husband. During the conversation, we learned about Marion's leaving college to teach home economics without finishing her degree. Mary Anne Pugin, '71, former director of alumni relations, wrote a memorandum asking the University to award her an honorary bachelor of science degree for her scholastic accomplishments and academic contributions. The University faculty fully agreed and Marion, age 101, was awarded her 77-years overdue degree by Gallaudet President I. King Jordan at the May 12, 2000 Commencement. She said that the long awaited degree was one of her life's biggest highlights.
Posted: 24 Mar 2003