An 1889 graduate of Omaha High School, now Central High School, Marion travelled to France, where she studied at Sorbornne University, receiving a degree in French. She was teaching French in Iowa when the United States entered WWI. Marion responded to the need for service by becoming a war relief volunteer through the YWCA. As a volunteer in support of the troops of both the United States and France, Marion served at a canteen near the French front lines. The canteen provided refreshments and respite for the soldiers who were allowed to leave the front line for brief periods. She also taught French to other volunteers. In 1918, an artillery shell struck the canteen where she was serving, killing her. As a result, she became the first American woman killed in active service during WWI. She received full burial honors from the French military and is at rest in the Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery alongside other American soldiers who were killed on the Western Front. Memorials to Marion’s service include a building named in her honor at St. Katherine’s School in Davenport, Iowa, both a section of Iowa highway named in her honor and a Gold Star Highway Marker in place near Davenport, and Iowa Historical Marker on the grounds of St. Katherine’s, and her name listed on the WWI Memorial at Central.
Marion passed away in 1918 at the age of 45.