Wife of Steven Strong and VP of Solar Design Associates
by Alex Wilson
Marilyn Strong, Steven Strong’s wife, passed away Tuesday evening (June 23rd) at U Mass Memorial Medical Center from heart failure.
I first got to know Marilyn and Steven when I arrived at NESEA as executive director in 1980. The organization, then the New England Solar Energy Association, was based in Brattleboro, Vermont, but I regularly drove into Boston for meetings, and I usually stayed with Steven and Marilyn, and their young son Hunter, in Lincoln, MA, where they were living at the time.
In 1983 or 84, a group of us from NESEA, including Marilyn, rode on a 600-mile solar energy “bike-a-thon” from Harrisburg, PA to a national Passive Solar Conference in Knoxville, Tennessee, camping along the way. (This was a joint fundraiser for NESEA and the Mid-Atlantic Solar Energy Association–with which NESEA later merged.) It was wonderful to get to know Marilyn in that context, and we maintained a close friendship ever since.
Much more recently, Steven and Marilyn, along with my wife and I and two other couples, searched together for the right property in Vermont to create a small cohousing community. While we ended up not finding the right spot and we all moved ahead with our own projects, that process brought us back together, and we enjoyed many stories about the early years of Steven’s and Marilyn’s involvement in solar.
The two of them ended up buying a farm in Tunbridge, Vermont, and have been working for the past three years in creating their dream retirement home. It is so sad to realize that their dream of retiring together in Vermont will not be realized.
Robert Erb, one of the earliest employees at Solar Design Associates with Steven and Marilyn, asked me to share with the NESEA community the news about Marilyn’s passing. In keeping with Marilyn’s wishes, there will be no wake or funeral, but a celebration of her life will be scheduled when the time is right. Steven told Robert that he would prefer not to be contacted for a little while, so that he and family can grieve in private.
Steven has done so much over the past 40 years, not only for the NESEA community, but for the renewable energy movement nationally and internationally. With Marilyn at his side, he has been the leading pioneer in transitioning photovoltaics “from research to reality” (the title of a 1983 NESEA conference at MIT that Steven co-chaired). I know that he will need all of our support as he struggles to come to grips with this sudden tragedy.
We will miss you, Marilyn.
Alex Wilson served as executive director of NESEA from 1980 to 1985 and then served two terms on the Board of Directors. After leaving his position at NESEA, he founded BuildingGreen, Inc., the Brattleboro-based publisher (since 1992) of Environmental Building News, the nation’s oldest and most respected publication on green building. In 2012 he launched the nonprofit Resilient Design Institute.