Friday, April 15, 2016

Tragedy strikes as young musical talent succumbs to heart condition

Good-bye Marlee: We will miss your sweet smile, music and precocious wit.


Marlee Rebecca Cluff loved singing and dancing and pushing the envelope. In top photo, near the end of her life,
she tried a new hair color.  "It wasn't quite what I thought it would be," she confided. "I wanted more purple." 
Marlee loved to sing and dance, here with her mom's
good friend and landlord, James Hayes, on bass.

TRAGEDY STRUCK in the wee hours of April 7, when Marlee Rebecca Cluff passed away in the Fort Bragg hospital.
Hours of CPR and emergency medical attention failed to revive her after she collapsed at home in the wee hours. Her death ended a life of medical challenge resulting from a congenital birth defect which compromised her cardiovascular and pulmonary systems and eventually took her life.
Marlee, nine years old, was a brave, bright light , sharing her talents for singing, drawing and dancing with her community and extended family. Everyone who spent time with this charming child admired her talent, wit and courage.
RAISED MOST of her life by Lauren Chalece Cluff, a single mom, Marlee weighed less than five pounds when she was born Aug.31, 2006. She endured her first of many surgeries when only eight days old. Another operation was planned this summer, to replace both her damaged pulmonary artery and an overtaxed aortic valve.
Home for Marlee was Purple Martin Farm near Point Arena.
Marlee’s musical mother sang to her all her short life. Patsy Cline tunes, Billy Holiday ballads and Beatles songs were Marlee’s favorites. She knew many lyrics and 1940s “big band” tunes not familiar to many older musicians.
HER VOCAL talents, intelligence and winning personality charmed friends and family at weddings, reunions and many other functions. Marlee’s drawings and jewelry pieces were impromptu gifts cherished by visitors to her home on Purple Martin Farm near Point Arena. She was a second grader at Pacific Community Charter School.
Marlee was a thoughtful, bright child who will be missed.
AN ENERGETIC tree climber and rain dancer, Marlee loved riding her bike through the forest and farmland.  She had a precocious nature and broad interests, embracing astronomy and the constellations. On the last night of her brief life, she described once seeing a rare “moonbow” and proudly showed off the blossoms of a fruit tree blooming on the farm.
Survivors besides her mother include her mother’s partner, Kieran Roy Martin, whom Marlee called “my super hero,” her step-sister Aya Martin, aunts and uncles and a grieving extended family on the farm run by Kelle Martin and James Hayes. Marlee is also survived by loving grandparents Richard and Shelly Jones, two sets of great grandparents and hundreds of friends and admirers spanning the generations.
Marlee's home in rural Point Arena offered her plenty of flowers to draw.
MARLEE'S MOTHER extends “heartfelt thanks to all the first responders for their extreme efforts to keep Marlee alive. After more than an hour of CPR, these wonderful people still didn't want to give up on Marlee. I will be forever grateful for their loving care, and that her last moments on Earth were spent with such caring people."
Marlee Rebecca's Celebration of life will be held at the Odd Fellow's Hall in Point Arena, Calif., this Saturday April 16, at 3 p.m., appropriate because  Marlee loved the rugged Mendocino coast, and the flowers blooming this time of year. Guests are asked to bring a potluck dish and an anecdote of Marlee's life to share. A live band of locals who loved Marlee will provide dancing music. More details may be found on Aimee Taylor’s Point Arena Update page on Facebook. (Plug in Marlee Cluff.)
A FUND to defray medical and burial expenses has been arranged, in lieu of floral remembrances. The Marlee Cluff Memorial Fund, arranged at Redwood Credit Union, is account number: @2647cluf. Donations may also be sent to Marlee Cluff Memorial, c/o Redwood Credit Union,  PO Box 485, Point Arena, CA 95468. Call 707 545-4000; 1 800 479-7928

The junk is a revered part of Asian culture. We sample it, and a half-dozen
other modes of Asian culture, in the next whereiscookie! 
The junk is a revered part of Asian culture. We sample it, and a half-dozen other modes of Asian culture, in the next whereiscookie!
We'll visit Vietnam by bike, Hong Kong by junk, Thailand by tuk-tuk and Japan by bullet train. Come with us to explore Asia with a variety of transportation options.  Remember to explore, learn and live, and catch us Friday afternoons when we post for each weekend. Our specialty is travel with a twist -- as we put our own spirit and stamp on each culture we visit.


  1. Bay Area TravelersApril 17, 2016 at 1:32 PM

    I saw the lovely photo and was compelled to read the story, which made me weep.
    How brave she was -- and talented. A comet in our midst. How lucky were the family and friends to know and make music with her! Thank you. Thank you. RIP, little Marlee.

  2. We are north in Oregon, at the Shakespeare Festival. This young, gifted girl's life would make a play. In time, a consideration for this writer?

  3. Great article Cookie and Keller. Thank you for all you have done. Love Lauren

  4. Victorian vagabondsApril 22, 2016 at 11:25 AM

    We drove from the Bay Area to the Point Arena Lighthouse the day of the memorial, but did not know Marlee or her family. Such a loss. Such a poignant portrait of her life! Our condolences to her loved ones.

  5. Im 14 now but I went to school with Marley but she always preferred to go by Rebecca. she was my best friend. I've always regretted not going to her celebration of life but at the time I lived half time in a different country. she was the kindest person I have ever met. I got really bullied starting at a young age she was always the person to stand up for me. I still remember getting the phone call about the news of her death that memory will be engraved in my mind forever. I would do anything to be able to say goodbye or to give her one last hug. she always told me that one day she wouldn't be here but I never understood what that meant. I no longer live in point arena but whenever I visit I always bring flowers and ill talk to her for hours just updating her on my life and hoping she's listening. I was angry at her for the longest time for leaving me here on this planet alone without a warning or a goodbye but I now realize this world did not yet deserve her, I hope to meet her spirit in another life. she has given me the gift of passion, because of her I have been a dancer for nine years and I continue to sing whenever I get the chance, I have also found a passion in the medical field of pediatrics because of her. I will always love her and think of her and I'm glad to have finally been able to share this with people who might have known her as-well.

  6. im 14 now but Marlee was my best friend. she was the most incredible human being I have ever met. she had the most extraordinarily infinite soul I shall ever encounter on this planet. my heart still feels hollow without her, she taught me so many things about being wise about being kind and most of all about being grateful for your life. she showed me the wonders of the arts at a very young age, I've been a dancer for 9 years and I continue to sing whenever I can. because of her I have the dream of being a pediatrician. I have many beautiful stories about her, but even those can't begin to describe how incredibly beautiful she was. I no longer live in point arena but when I visit I always bring her flowers and talk to her for hours filling her in on my life and just lying there with her knowing she can feel my love. im glad to have found this post now because if I had found it earlier I wouldn't have said anything, for the longest time it was the most painful thing to talk about her, but now I love talking about her and how much she impacted the person I am becoming. I will forever love and cherish her and her memory. to whoever still reads this, please tell the people you love that you love them because you never know when it will be too late.