Reba Marr Harrington, a graduate of Libbey High School and the University of Toledo who saw the world as an Air Force major, received a law degree during her service, and, as a civilian, became a federal attorney, died Sunday in Bronson Methodist Hospital, Kalamazoo, Mich. She was 65.
She had congestive heart failure, yet reported to work until about a month ago at the Hart-Dole-Inouye Federal Center in Battle Creek, Mich., her sister Roxanne Marr-Shears said.
“Reba was really a hard worker and committed and loyal to her craft,” her sister said.
For decades, she and her siblings, wherever they lived, gathered each Thanksgiving at their parents’ central Toledo home.
“It was her foundation and her roots,” her daughter, Remi Harrington, said. “She loved this place. She always wanted to come back, and if her health permitted she wanted to be mayor.”
Ms. Harrington lived in Battle Creek since the late 1990s, and was a legal counsel for the Defense Reutilization and Marketing Service. She volunteered and took part in community projects. She set up workshops to prepare students for the SAT and ACT standardized tests. She was interested since her youth in political matters and was elected a trustee of Kellogg Community College.
“She really found herself advocating for people who are marginalized,” her daughter said. “She knew education provided her many opportunities.”
With her military background, Ms. Harrington served as keynote speaker for the college’s 2014 Memorial Day ceremony.
“She loved community,” her daughter said. “She was not pretentious. She was a laid-back person, cool and fun and intelligent and loyal and was able to intermingle with any people.”
She was born Dec. 25, 1952, to Ruth and Russell Marr. After she graduated from Libbey, she went to UT, from which she received a bachelor’s degree in secondary education. She enlisted in the Air Force and served stateside, in Europe, and in Asia, and was promoted through the ranks to major. She received a law degree from Capital University in Columbus and was admitted to the Ohio Bar in 1991.
Defense contracting matters became one of her specialties.
“I think Reba was very ambitious and just wanted to spread her wings,” her sister said. “Reba was extraordinarily analytical.”
One of her favorite assignments was in Okinawa, Japan. A playwright and musician, her drama about two families dealing with the death of a child had a yearlong run there. She retired from the Air Force in 1995.
Ms. Harrington received a master of business administration degree from Golden Gate University and a doctorate in business philosophy from Northcentral University. Through the years, she taught college students and owned businesses.
“She approached life with inquiry,” her daughter said. “There was a certainty to her also, because she was so learned and well read. She was led by her values.”
Her sister said: “Our parents really promoted education and hard work and were spiritual.”
Surviving are her daughter, Remi Tai Harrington; son, Kyle Joseph Harrington; mother, Ruth Marr; brothers, Ronald and Rodney Marr; sisters, Jackie Webb, Renicia Marr, Robin Marr, and Roxanne Marr-Shears, and a granddaughter.
Visitation will be from 4-6 p.m. Friday in the C. Brown Funeral Home. Funeral services will be at 12:30 p.m. Saturday in Calvary Baptist Church, where she was baptized, with a family hour starting at noon.
The family suggests tributes to a fund being created in her name to benefit students at UT’s school of visual and performing arts.
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