Ethel Marran, 89

June 12, 1929 - January 12, 2019
Ethel Marran, June 12, 1929 - January 12, 2019

Ethel Kennedy Marran, a longtime summer resident of East Hampton who had been a member of the Devon Yacht Club in Amagansett, died on Saturday at her home in Vero Beach, Fla., surrounded by family, caregivers, and her loyal canine companion, Mister Dog. She died of complications of Alzheimer’s disease. She was 89. 

A proud feminist and progressive thinker, Mrs. Marran inspired and supported women through educational and health programs, her family said. Her daughter Elizabeth Marran described her as a quiet, simple, self-reliant woman.

“Though soft-spoken, she had a dry sense of humor that brought smiles to those around her. A woman who showed great ambition and determination throughout her life, Ethel was loved by many and will be deeply missed,” her family said in an obituary. 

She was born in Brooklyn on June 12, 1929, to John R. Kennedy and the former Ethel R. Leavy. She grew up in Jackson Heights, Queens, and spent summers in Bayport. Her family moved to Tenafly, N.J. just as she graduated from Mount Saint Vincent High School. She went on to graduate from Marymount College in Tarrytown. 

At 25, Miss Kennedy married William R. Marran, and together they would raise six children. She enjoyed teaching first grade at Blue Point Elementary School for the first several years of their marriage, until 1958. Later, she pursued her passion for designing and building homes and was a partner in Marran Building Designs. She and her husband began buying property in Amagansett East, now Beach Hampton; he was the contractor, she the designer. Some they kept as rental properties, others they sold. 

“Her architecture reflected modern and practical solutions for busy parents,” her family said, describing how her role as a mother informed her work life. “Ethel’s homes were also welcoming and nurturing spaces and she always had extra potatoes for any last-minute visitors.”

The couple lived in Patchogue for a short period, then Bayport before moving to Cold Spring Harbor, where they lived until 1987. In her younger days, she loved sailing and touch football. In her later years, she enjoyed tennis, bicycling, and walking on the beach. On Long Island she was a member of the Sayville Yacht Club, and in Florida she belonged to the John’s Island Club. 

The Marrans spent summers as renters in Amagansett before buying her parents’ house on Pudding Hill Lane in the 1970s. While she wintered in Vero Beach, she returned to East Hampton with the sun, gathering with her children and grandchildren.

Mrs. Marran is survived by five of her six children: Elizabeth Marran of Boston, Lynn Marran of Fullerton, Calif., Jack Marran of Vero Beach, Laura Marran of San Diego, and Paul Marran of London. She is also survived by 11 grandchildren. A brother, Quentin Kennedy of Tenafly, also survives.

A son, William R. Marran III, and her husband of 50 years, William R. Marran II, died before her.

A burial service will be held tomorrow morning at 11 at the John’s Island Cemetery, followed by a lunch at the family home.

Her family suggested memorial donations to two causes she held dear: Planned Parenthood, which supports women’s health and education, at 123 William Street, 10th Floor, New York 10038; or the Indian River Boys and Girls Club of Vero Beach, 1729 17th Avenue, Vero Beach, Fla. 32960.