2:00pm Sunday 29th April 2012
By James Nadal
MOURNERS bid farewell to Marlow stalwart Marjorie Sawyer this week, as friends paid tribute to the former funeral director and Inner Wheel Club president.
Marjorie, who was nearly 90 years old, ran Sawyer's Funeral Service in the town for many years with her late husband Don Sawyer.
She passed away on April 10 and her funeral was held on Monday at Chiltern's Crematorium.
Well wishers heard at the service that Marjorie was among the first ever female professionally qualified undertakers in the country.
And she and Don were the first funeral directors husband and wife team in England.
Last year she celebrated 50 years as a member of Marlow Inner Wheel Club, the ladies branch of the rotary club, during which time she served as secretary and president three times each.
To mark her longstanding commitment Marjorie was visited at her retirement home in Wooburn Green by District Chairman Rose Stewart, who presented her with a framed Certificate of Achievement. A special Inner Wheel Brooch was presented by president of the time Pauline Slater.
Mrs Slater said: "She was a tremendous member in that she took an interest all her life, worked hard for it, and obviously made it what it is today – a very thriving group which enjoys friendship and raises a lot of money for charity."
In 1982 she was presented with one of their highest accolades, The Paul Harris Award.
Her husband Don was a Rotary District Governor in the 1980s.
Current Rotary District Governor Niall Blair said: "It was a great privilege to have Marjorie as a honorary member of the Rotary Club of Marlow.
"She was a wonderful person who always gave good advice to us all. She was very highly respected in the town and in inner wheel circles. She contributed a tremendous amount."
Hambleden resident Philippe Burger, who used to run family tearooms business Burger's of Marlow on the Causeway before retiring, knew Marjorie from the rotary club.
He said: "She was a very nice lady, very compassionate. She was very good with people suffering the loss of a family member."
Marlow resident and Rotarian Peter Reynolds helped Marjorie go to services at All Saints Church in her later years.
He said: "She was a lovely lady and very well known in the town."
She continued to run the funeral service with daughter Anne Howlett after her husband's death. Sawyer's closed last year.
The mother and daughter told the Free Press six years ago of their struggle to keep the business going amid the threat of neighbouring supermarket Waitrose in West Street which wanted to expand.
They received overwhelming support from the public.
A residents' referendum was set up and 94 per cent voted against Waitrose getting a compulsory purchase order to buy Sawyer's land.
Following the ballot, the plans never went through.
Funeral donations were asked to be sent to Arthritis Research UK c/o Arnold Funeral Service, 891, London Road, High Wycombe HP10 9TB. Tel 01494 472572.
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