MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Local News

September 24, 2009

Co-founder of museum dies

Wadley was instrumental in Five Civilized Tribes Museum founding

A woman who dedicated her life to the community and was one of the co-founders of the Five Civilized Tribes Museum died Wednesday at the age of 102.

Marie L. Wadley was born on Dec. 16, 1907, when Oklahoma was still known as Indian Territory. She predated statehood by 11 months. Her funeral will be at 2 p.m. Friday at St. Paul United Methodist Church, 2130 W. Okmulgee Ave.

Of Cherokee and Shawnee descent, Wadley was born in Pensacola, Indian Territory, and grew up on a farm near Vinita. She came to Muskogee in 1923 to enroll in Draughon Business College.

On her 100th birthday, she commented about why she loved life and believed attitude makes all the difference.

“I’ve always tried to have a good outlook on life and be positive and not negative,” Wadley said. “I’ve always wanted to succeed, and I’ve always been inspired to try to improve in some way every day, even now that I’m 100.”

Her advice to young people was to “believe in yourself and have a good attitude.”

“I think attitude is so important — and wanting to do something.”

Wadley believed that if she had succeeded, it was because of the help and inspiration she got. She always remembered the confidence others had in her.

Kathryn Lathim was a longtime friend of Wadley’s.

“She was a very thoughtful person,” Lathim said. “She was most generous. She always wanted to do things for her family.”

On Fridays, Wadley would have her hair done and meet with Lathim and two other friends.

“We would get together for lunch every Friday at Golden Corral,” Lathim said.

Lathim described Wadley as a wonderful person.

“I always called her our icon,” she said. “She was a fantastic person.”

Wadley, who was proud of her Native American heritage, spent most of her life helping other Native Americans in some capacity.

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