Ethel M. Marbley was a seamstress and dressmaker.
Marbley died Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2013. She was 79.
She was born March 15, 1933, to Brazzle Harris and Frank McNatte in Philadelphia.
Marbley and her two siblings grew up in a close-knit family in North Philadelphia.
She was educated in the Philadelphia public school system and completed studies at Gratz High School.
She worked in the restaurant industry and later developed entrepreneurial skills which led to several successful business ventures with her husband, Arnold Marbley.
Her family said her creativity and passion for sewing and design, led her to become a self-taught master seamstress.
Marbley held several positions in the garment industry at Quartermasters in South Philadelphia and Marilyn Wolf Designs in Narberth. At Marilyn Wolf, she specialized in chenille designs which included robes, jackets, accessories and soft luggage and garment bags. Her chenille robes were featured on a popular television Show “It Takes Two” starring Mary Kate and Ashley Olson, and sold at Neiman Marcus and Bloomingdale’s. She also designed and made terry robes for the Ritz Carlton.
According to her family, Marbley’s personal clientele grew and her passion and specialty for wedding, prom and formal gowns blossomed.
As one of the first homeowners of the Millcreek Townhouses, Marbley developed life-long friendships on Cristina Place, becoming a steadfast neighbor with her close knit group of friends there.
Marbley was a member of Peniel Baptist Church where she was active in the growth and progress of the church. She served as a trustee, choir member and started a devotional ministry.
Her hobbies included baking and cooking, listening to music and watching her favorite television shows. She took summer trips to Atlantic City and also enjoyed visiting the Caribbean, Hawaii and Europe.
“Ethel was truly the sunshine in everyone’s day, her family said.
“She always had a kind word to say about anyone. If she did have to say a ‘snippy’ word or two, the words would be funny because of Ethel’s unique humor … which was all her own … somehow it didn’t seem like a ‘snip’ at all and you began to laugh with her.”
In addition to her husband, Marbley was preceded in death by her daughter, Tracy; brother, David and sister, Frances.
She is survived by her children, Ellen Johnson, Raymond Johnson and George Thomas; grandchildren, Ashley and Ashrya; and great-grandchild, Jailah.
A memorial service was held January 16 at Peniel Baptist Church, 2511-13 West Jefferson Street.
Wood Funeral Home handled the arrangements.