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Robert C.
Democrat PA

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  • Retirement of Wayne Leonard

    by Senator Robert P. Casey, Jr.

    Posted on 2013-02-28

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    CASEY. Mr. President, today I rise to honor and remember the full life of Marlene ``Linny'' Fowler for her exceptional service to her community, commonwealth and country.

    Marlene was born in New York City, the oldest child of Harold and Miriam Oberkotter. Though she was raised in Harrington Park, NJ, Marlene spent her adult life living in Pennsylvania. Marlene, known affectionately as Linny, was a renowned philanthropist, artist and a pillar of her adopted community. Today I wish to honor her as such.

    As a philanthropist, her influence can been seen across Northeast Pennsylvania, particularly in Bethlehem, the city she had called home since 1965. Upon the passing of her father Harold, a late UPS chief executive, Marlene became one of the wealthiest individuals in the Lehigh Valley. Choosing to eschew large homes or fancy cars, Marlene instead gave generously to support the arts, education and children. She helped to establish a childcare center and Hispanic Youth Center at Northampton County Community College as well as the college's Southside campus, which proudly bears her family name. Her generosity also helped send hundreds of students to colleges and universities that they would otherwise have been unable to afford to attend. Even with her health failing, Marlene worked hard to maintain her involvement with the community up until her passing. Although she kept the total of her generosity a secret, by her own admission she gave away tens of millions of dollars over the course of her life.

    As an artist, Marlene was trained in the art of stained glass, which she taught throughout her life. She also maintained a studio at the Banana Factory in Bethlehem, an institution she helped fund. As a pillar of her community, Marlene made sure her philanthropic efforts always had a human touch. She met with needy families and non-profit directors in the living room of her own home, investing herself as much as her money. Even as recent economic difficulties forced her to scale back some of her giving, she still continued to keep track of all the youth she helped send to school.

    As Marlene's family and friends mourn her loss, I pray that they will be comforted by the knowledge that this great Nation will never forget the generosity of Marlene ``Linny'' Fowler. May she rest in peace.


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