Marilyn Potter Davidheiser

marilyn davidheiser
DAVIDHEISER, Marilyn Potter, age 75, of Sewanee, died on Wednesday, March 1, 2023, in a memory care facility in Hendersonville, Tennessee, where she spent the last 14 months of her life. She was born on May 13, 1947, in Berkeley, California, to Frederick and Lois Potter. Marilyn graduated from San Ramon High School in Danville, California, Chico State University in California, and Middle Tennessee State University where she earned her Master’s Degree in Education. Spending her junior college year in Mainz, Germany, she met her husband, Jim, whom she married on Aug. 2, 1969. They first settled in Newark, Delaware, where she taught German and English and gave birth to two children before they moved to The University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee. Marilyn taught kindergarten at Good Shepherd Catholic School in Decherd, Tennessee, and then taught German and Spanish for 20 years at Franklin County High School in Winchester. She led trips for her students to Spain and Morocco, and received the Student Exchange Award from The Federation of German-American Clubs after placing students in German exchange programs for many years. Marilyn loved her students and colleagues and was dearly loved in return. In addition to teaching, Marilyn was an avid gardener, lover of nature and her grandchildren, and devoted Catholic. She was a talented musician playing both the piano and guitar and sang in the Sewanee Chorale. Marilyn was an active member of the Cumberland Center for Justice and Peace and had a great heart for service. Accompanied by her gracious young daughter, who never once protested, she often made time to visit sick, lonely, and elderly neighbors and community members. Marilyn will be remembered by all who knew her for her kindness and humility towards everyone she encountered. Marilyn was preceded in death by her parents and older brother, Rick Potter. She is survived by her husband, Jim; children, Mark and Carolyn (David); younger brother, Bryan; grandchildren, Evangeline and James; and many nieces and nephews. A requiem mass will be celebrated at Good Shepherd Catholic Church in Decherd on Saturday, March 25, 2023, at 10:30 a.m. A private graveside service for the family will take place separately. Arrangements in the care of Compassion Funeral & Cremation Services, 6949 Charlotte Pike, Suite 104, Nashville, TN 37209. We are proud to be locally owned and operated.

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Memories Timeline


  1. Mrs. Davidheiser was such a light to this world. Such as talented and smart woman! I can remember as a child she always treated me and my family so kindly. I remember her fantastic cooking that I would enjoy as a child.

  2. Marilyn was a favorite teacher and colleague. She was a talented teacher with a huge heart. Her compassion for her students was extraordinary, and her sense of humor delightful. I will always cherish memories I have of our many years of teaching together.

  3. There are so many precious memories of Cousin Marilyn. Once She and I were visiting the Danville home, at the same time. She wanted to take me to the place where she and her brothers used to “slide down the hill”. So we arose early next morning to a bright young day, long before breakfast. We crossed Diablo Rd., wound our way through the labyrinth of homes built since the sliding era. .. up and up until we came upon the steep meadow. There by the dewy sliding place we shared childhood memories, until the rising sun made it clear it was breakfast time. Thank you, Marilyn, for that grace.

  4. Señorita was a lovely person. She was one of the best teachers I ever had. She prepared me well for college Spanish. Prayers and love to her family. Amy Gipson Wingo

  5. So sorry for your loss. What an interesting life in service for others. Prayers for family and friends at this time.

  6. In this picture Celesta Bargatze and I dressed as our favorite teacher for Spirit Week. Frau took me out of the country for the first time and ignited my love of travel. She used a Total Physical Response Storytelling pedagogy so her class involved hand gestures and partner work, not just sitting and doing worksheets. She brought so much joy and intellectual curiosity into my life. I am so grateful for her influence in making me who I am today. May she rest in peace.

  7. I dearly loved Marilyn or Mrs. Davidheiser as I always called her. She was one of the friendliest and most compassionate people I have ever known. I remember how she was always there to help students, community members, and teachers who happened to be in need. One incident typified her attitude. Her daughter was getting married, and she was looking for local flowers 🌺 to use for decorations. Mrs. Day and I told her about the vast number of daisies growing wild behind our houses. She accepted the idea and planned to get them. The day before the wedding the owner of the property mowed down the whole field with thousands of daisies! We were horrified, but Marilyn just handled it. The world today needs a lot more Mrs. Davidheisers.

  8. I met Mrs. Davidheiser in Sewanee when I had the opportunity to babysit for Mark and Carolyn. She always had such a great smile. Years afterwards, she and Mr. Davidheiser kept up with my parents and our family, having meals together and inviting us over. I appreciated her inviting us as a group when I had my first child along with me. The more the merrier was Marilyn’s way! I remember the feeling of positive energy and the laughter at these get-togethers. Thank you for these great memories and for being there for my parents. – Martha (Ebey) Lee

  9. I remember Mrs. Davidheiser as a positive, pragmatic neighbor in Sewanee. She and Mr. Davidheiser were dear friends to my parents, Sherwood and Jane Ebey. For my Dad’s 80th Birthday Party, they collaborated in writing a complimentary, witty poem that was a big hit. Mrs. Davidheiser made the world a better place with her bright, giving spirit.

  10. Marilyn was a faithful friend for sixty-five years. She had the gift of enjoying her life and sharing it with others. May our Lord Jesus grant to her Shalom, the peace that passes our understanding.

  11. Marilyn and I met in kindergarten in Danville, California 70 years ago and remained lifelong friends since then. I remember idyllic nights playing Kick The Can and Hide and Go Seek in the dark with her brothers and the neighborhood kids. The hot summers swimming in the Potter backyard pool playing Marco Polo and later on Quiet Quincy because her mother was very sick. Sitting around the fire pit telling ghost stories in the dark! I remember their living room filled with books and the ice tea which was always available! I was an Air Force brat born in Germany after WW II so I convinced Marilyn to take 4 years of German in high school with me because I was so sure I’d visit there someday. I remember the day she got her driver’s license and came by my house proudly to take me for a ride. She got hers first because her birthday was in May. She continued on with German classes in college while I went on to become a dental hygienist. We visited every summer while her father Fred was still alive and living on Diablo Rd, watching our kids swim and eating lunch under the trees in the backyard. I remember how we’d even sing our old choir songs together while we looked at each other’s family photographs. She was one of the best human beings I’ve ever met. I loved her and will miss her dearly. ***Here are some photos from 2010 and 2015 reunions of Danville group of friends. If I can find and dig through my childhood photo boxes I’ll add some more.

  12. We first met Marilyn when she and her family became our next door neighbors in Sewanee. We continued our frirendship throughout her life. Marilyn was a complex person who left an indelible stamp on our lives. She shared our enthusiasm for the German language and culture. She was a competent teacher and social activist. She was always cheerful and friendly. We miss her tremendously and are really sorry for her loss. We feel grateful to have called her our friend. John and Jane Flynn

  13. Lieber Jim, wir denken heute an diesem schweren Tag ganz besonders an Dich – und natürlich an Marilyn. Wir haben so viele gute Erinnerungen an Marilyn: Sie war einer der gastfreundlichsten Menschen, die ich kenne, und die Güte in Person! Wir sind dankbar, dass wir sie kennenlernen dürften. Claudia und Hans-Peter

  14. I adored Marilyn the first time we met 43 years ago. Such an incredible mother and way with children and adults! I was VERY fortunate to have her be my dear dear sister in law as she was and is a TRUE sister forever. Love you Marilyn. Kalia

  15. In honored memory of a fine colleague, an exemplary teacher, and a friend.

    A Memorial Tree was planted in memory of Marilyn Potter Davidheiser
  16. In Loving Memory for Marilyn Davidheiser. All around Lovely Person and will be greatly missed! Love, David, Monica, Patty , Tim and Judy.

    A Memorial Tree was planted in memory of Marilyn Potter Davidheiser
  17. Marilyn was a kindergarten teacher at Good Shepherd School. She taught two of my children who loved her dearly. I was a teacher there, too, and she was a great friend to me. She was a wonderful presence in the world.

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