Written by: Tom Rieland
Date: November 18, 2009

The Marion community is mourning the loss of its first lady of broadcasting, Madge Lily Cooper Guthery, who passed away last Saturday. Madge was the epitome of understanding that learning never stops. Her life started on a rural Ohio farm in 1910 and she lived every moment since as fully as anyone I’ve known.

For over 50 years, Madge spent time behind the microphone at Marion’s WMRN Radio (AM 1490), starting at the station days after it went on the air in 1941. She served many positions at the station including program director. I like that her last job at the station was hosting a Saturday morning talk program about Marion history. That kind of small town, really local radio, is becoming very rare.

Let me tell you two quick anecdotes about Madge, who, by the way, helped WOSU put WOSB-91.1. FM, a repeater station of WOSU, on the air in Marion and more recently supported our efforts to build WOSU@COSI studios. She loved Ohio State, her alma mater and supported the OSU-Marion campus generously.

I was privileged to interview Madge for the NPR StoryCorps project about four years ago at the mobile studio on the Statehouse lawn. She talked about working with a student writer named Rod Serling and covering all the news in Marion. I asked her what her first impression was of Ohio State, since she came to campus fresh from the farm in the late 1920s. She said her first big thrill was having her first Coca Cola. She had never tasted a Coke until that first day on campus!

Consider also the amazing curiosity of a a woman who took classes at England’s Oxford University and traveled to China to ride on the Orient Express and walk on the Great Wall. And she did this in her 90s!

Madge valued education above all else and exemplified lifelong learning. She was a model for all of us. I know everyone in Marion will miss her deeply as will I.