Marilyn Nash Hadley, 1923–2023

Marilyn Nash Hadley of Visalia died at home peacefully and surrounded by her family in Visalia, Calif., on March 6, 2023.

Nearly 100 years earlier, Marilyn was born in Visalia on Aug. 14, 1923 to Ruth (Decker) and William Penn Nash. She was the younger sister to William Penn Nash, Jr., known as Bill, and affectionately as Bubba. 

A very proud product of the town that she loved, Marilyn worshipped at the First Presbyterian Church. She attended Visalia city schools, graduating from Visalia High School in 1940 where she excelled in academics and on the tennis court. 

At a time when few women went to college, she attended Stanford University starting in the fall of 1941, just prior to the onset of World War II. She thrived at Stanford, graduating with great distinction with a degree in physical education. She spent a year on the teaching staff and received her teaching credential in 1944. At Stanford, she lettered in tennis and field hockey. Following college, she taught PE for two years in Southern California at Whittier High School before returning home to Visalia.

In June 1946, she married the love of her life Joshua Milton Hadley, Jr., who preceded her in death in 1992. Together, Marilyn and Milt raised a family of three—Mary Ferrara (Joe), Carol Lovejoy (John), and Josh Hadley (Debbie)—and enjoyed building a life out on “The Ranch” near Outside Creek School. They raised cattle, melons, and walnuts, among other things. For 25 years, Marilyn taught PE and coached tennis, was a guidance counselor, and the Dean of Girls at Exeter Union High School, retiring in 1983.

Marilyn loved her children, their dedicated spouses, and the extended Hadley family very much. She took special pride in her eight grandchildren, who lovingly called her Grandma or “Goose,” and the next generation of great-grandchildren. 

While Visalia was always home, Marilyn also enjoyed traveling. She and Milt adored their place in Cayucos and spent considerable time at the Coast with family and friends. Whether it was exploring the Pacific Northwest in a travel trailer and living off the land by fishing and crabbing with Milt or playing the part of tourists with her brother Bill and sister-in-law Jane and other friends at sites across the globe, she documented her extensive travel in journals and photo albums. Late in life, she appreciated a simple car ride to The Ranch. Marilyn loved any good adventure.

Marilyn Nash Hadley

From 1954, she was active in P.E.O., serving as chapter president just like her mother had done and as her daughters have as well. She liked to play Cribbage, Blackjack, and other card games, especially Bridge with Milt and other couples and with groups of women throughout the years.

At the age of 89, she self-published “My Life,” an autobiography that she wrote to share her life story with her family. 

Much like one of the most memorable songs from The Sound of Music (a favorite movie of hers), Marilyn had a few of her own “Favorite Things.” She relished a gin cocktail at 5 o’clock. She ate only dark chocolate (never milk!) candy. She enjoyed a good meal and always had room for a little dessert. She rooted hard for the San Francisco Giants and was a longtime fan of Stanford athletics. She believed in keeping active by playing tennis, golf, and walking. She spent summers tending to her patio garden where she planted and harvested tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, and berries that she shared with visitors. She never claimed to be much of a reader, but Marilyn was very much a lifelong learner who was always interested in meeting new people and trying new things. 

To her core, Marilyn Nash Hadley believed that she was blessed with love and a wonderful life. And she appreciated it all.

Her family wants to thank Kaweah Health Private Care and Kaweah Health Hospice for the wonderful care that Marilyn received over the last few months. Services will be private. Arrangements by Smith Family Chapel in Exeter. Online condolences may be made at

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