June 2021 Newsletter

The latest in our series…

People of the Park: Marilyn Osborne


Dale Dauten

How does it happen that a person grows up among the Aborigines of the Outback of Australia, and then eventually ends up living at Silveridge?

That’s what we went to find out when we visited with Marilyn Osborne. Let’s start her Outback story with a promise being made…

We’ve all heard about people making bargains with God – you know, the ones that go, “Spare me and I’ll devote my life to You.” And it’s become a cliché that after the life gets spared, the promise fades away. Not so with Marilyn’s father, Bob Stewart. Years before Marilyn was born, Bob’s wife Ethel was pregnant with a baby boy. Late in the pregnancy, Ethel needed surgery. It didn’t go well and neither mother nor baby were expected to survive. Indeed, the situation deteriorated to where Ethel was given just two hours to live. And that’s when Bob started praying: “Spare my wife and my child and I’ll live for You the rest of my life.” Subsequently, Ethel survived and so did the baby. Afterward, Bob never wavered in his promise: he became a regular at church, then a leader at church, and then on to Bible college. As graduation neared, Bob saw a presentation by a missionary and felt a calling, one that led him to apply to the Australian Aboriginal Evangelical Mission. The upshot was that, in 1950, Bob and Ethyl and their three children – now including Marilyn—headed for the Outback. Marilyn was five.

(Photo: That’s Marilyn at home in Silveridge, holding a piece of art made for her by her Aboriginal friends Each of the circles represents a story about Marilyn and her time there.)

The family settled in Cundeelee, an Outback village with a population that fluctuated between 50 to a few hundred (depending on the number of residents going “walkabout”), and it was a difficult 165 miles from the nearest town. The Stewarts were the only white people, but they were eventually welcomed into the local culture. Marilyn came to be called Karlkula — named for Marilyn’s favorite food, a wild pear that grew locally. And she so immersed herself into the culture that she not only spoke the native language but thought in it, as well.

She told us, “We didn’t have mirrors and it got to the point where I didn’t know I was white.” And when we asked Marilyn our favorite question, the one about the best advice she ever got, her mind went right back to her upbringing: “The Aborigines’ dialect only has about 3000 words, and nowhere do they have what you’d think of as ‘advice.’ But, you learned to listen, keep your mouth shut and live in the now. The past is past; live for today.” (Speaking of the past being past, she added that the Aborigines had a custom that if someone dies, they are never spoken of again.)

There’s much more to Marilyn’s story of growing up in the Outback and of her trying re-entry to American culture… enough more to fill two books. She has written Child of the Outback and Footprints & Fragrance in the Outback, both under her maiden name, Marilyn Stewart, and both are available on Amazon.com.

Although she returned to the States, Marilyn wrote this about her divided sense of self:

An Outback child at heart am I,

In culture and language, until I die.

Two cultures war inside of me,

Each one wishing to be complete and free.



When the family returned to Seattle, Marilyn, then 12 years old, remembers having to learn to eat with utensils and how to deal with U.S. currency. But she settled back in, and went to school. After high school, while at college in San Francisco, a friend persuaded Marilyn to join her on a trip to Arizona where they would get jobs and save money for school. She came to the desert and liked it, describing the place as almost like “being back in my beloved Outback.” The two friends found jobs with Motorola and while the original plan had been to save for college, Marilyn decided her savings were for a goal faraway, to return to Australia.

But, then, along came John Osborne, a technician in the same unit of Motorola. He asked her out for a date and she turned him down, later writing, “I was not going to let myself like or get serious about any man, for I had been kept from Australia long enough.” But she hadn’t allowed for Cupid getting involved, or maybe it was just John’s tenacity, for before long he was driving her home from work and stopping at [those of you who grew up in Phoenix will appreciate this] Bob’s Big Boy on Central.

The two eventually married, and it was a happily-ever-after story for decades. The two retired from Motorola in the late ‘80s and that’s when Marilyn attended a woman’s retreat and came home wanting to write about her experiences. She says, “I wasn’t what you’d call a writer, but something compelled me.” She started with her Australian experiences and later wrote on Bible study topics.

(Photo: John and Marilyn circa 2011)


Marilyn’s finding Silveridge struck her as providential — she even calls it “a God thing.” Unfortunately, it was perfect for a heartbreaking reason. Over the last few years, John developed dementia and then Alzheimer’s and Marilyn reports, “he hasn’t communicated in two years.” Marilyn has become his caretaker and the move to Silveridge was to accommodate that role. She explained:

“John developed dementia in 2014 and I was looking for a contained place, where I could take care of him. A girlfriend of mine, Carolyn Galarza, lived in Silveridge and told me of a unit for sale. It was perfect: it had a fence in back for my Pomeranian and a big Arizona room. It was just what I needed. Finding it was a God thing.”

(Photo: Marilyn holding her smiling Pomeranian called “Texas”)

Later this year, you may have a chance to hear Marilyn relate her life’s adventures in person — she has previously done a Silveridge presentation on her life, and plans to do it again, perhaps this Fall. (Marilyn has also taught the Thursday morning Women’s Bible Study Group for the past six years and is looking forward to doing so again in the coming season.)

Meanwhile, she still thinks of the Outback and says that one of her favorite activities is to visit the Boyce-Thompson Arboretum: “I just wander the footpaths and end up in the Australian section, where I reach out and pat the trees.”


Spring has sprung and Summer’s a’comin’

Spring has sprung and summer will soon be knocking at our door. Adding to the joys of seeing more sun and everything blooming is the good news that our dreaded pandemic and mask mandates are waning; also, many of us are feeling more confident now that we’ve had our Covid shots.

Though I freely admit enjoying the benefits of today’s technology–you know, a smartphone and computer for just about everything that involves communication and information, a streaming TV that lets me watch what I want & when I want to watch it, and a ‘wearable’ that helps me track my pulse rate. Yet, I’m hearing this sunny spring weather shouting at me, “Time to re-connect with the great outdoors.”

Spending time in nature is a great stress reliever. I love getting out to plant my garden, clean up my flower beds and pull weeds. My reward for this activity is usually a great night’s sleep.

Having a joy-filled and self-satisfying summer will help to set you up for your return to Silveridge this fall or winter. Though no one knows if Covid will keep retreating, it was good news recently to hear that Covid numbers are on a downward trend in all 50 states. Perhaps a little prayer will help keep the trend in the right direction.

When you do return, our Silveridge Computer & Technology Club will be there encouraging you to join our ranks to help you learn more about how technology can help you have a more enjoyable & fulfilling life. Our vice president, Dewey Kloos joins me in wishing you all a pleasant “springing into spring” and a truly enjoyable summer.

Carol Folker, SCTC President


If you know someone in the park you’d like to learn more about via one of our People of the Park profiles, please let me know.

Or, if you have photos you’ll like to share in upcoming newsletters, please send them.

Dale Dauten, Editor

Email: ddauten@gmail.com

Text: 480-297-6244