October 30, 1936 ~ February 5, 2006
Marilyn Montgomery Rindfuss’ remarkable life began in Beeville, Texas, on October 30, 1936, and “ended” a prime number of days later (25, 301), on February 5, 2005. In between, she carved out a permanent space in the hearts of everyone who knew her and left the world a better place.
Professionally, she made a lifelong commitment to improving education. For 31 years, she drew mathematics out of her students at Hot Wells Junior High, Alamo Heights Junior High, Ray High School (Corpus Christi), San Antonio College, Saint Mary’s Hall and Incarnate Word College with an informed enthusiasm that empowered and inspired them. Out of appreciation for her efforts, Saint Mary’s Hall’s Class of 1984 dedicated their yearbook to her. “She never doubts in our potential,” they wrote, “but continuously challenges, supports, edifies, and creates a desire within each of us to set our sights on objectives that at one time seemed unattainable.” In 1988, Marilyn left the classroom for Harcourt Educational Measurement, where, as a National Mathematics Consultant, she helped to change the face of standardized testing in the United States. During her18-year tenure at Harcourt, she flew over five million miles engaging in what might best be described as mathematical evangelism, conducting Teacher In-Service days that repeatedly brought her audiences to their feet.
When she wasn’t educating, she was often playing—and, later, coaching—tennis. “Tex” Montgomery, as Bud Collins called her, was among the pioneers of the women’s professional circuit, and was ranked as high as #4 in doubles and #7 in singles by the US Lawn Tennis Association. On three occasions, she was invited to compete at Wimbledon, but declined due to her fear of flying. While at Trinity, she coached the women’s tennis team to successive National Championships in 1975 and 1976. In recognition of these achievements, she was inducted into the Texas Tennis Hall of Fame in 1992 and Trinity University Athletic Hall of Fame in 2005.
Marilyn is survived and deeply missed by her husband and soul-mate of 36 years, Jim Rindfuss, two adoring and profoundly influenced sons, John Allen Rindfuss and Bryan Clark Rindfuss, two very close nieces, Melissa Montgomery Roland and Alyson Montgomery, several talented cousins, some of the best friends and colleagues a person could have, and a house full of spoiled dogs and cats. Cancer shortened—but could not lessen—our time with her. A celebratory memorial service will be held at 1 PM on Friday, February 24, at First Presbyterian Church. En lieu of flowers, the family asks honorary contributions be made to either the Humane Society/SPCA of Bexar County, 4804 Fredericksburg Rd., San Antonio, Texas 78229 or the Memorial Scholarship Fund at Trinity University, One Trinity Place, San Antonio, Texas 78212. To leave a note for the family, go to meadowlawn.net and select Obituaries.
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Jim, I’m sorry to hear of your loss. I know Marilyn has fought a long battle and I’m so sorry to hear that she has passed away. My thoughts and prayers are with you during this time. With love, Janey Polk Dutnell
We are so sad for you and your family. Marilyn was a beautiful talented woman. You cherished her and had a wonderful marriage. She was a strong courageous woman. CE and Kathleen Bryan
Jim and Family, It grieves me to think of the pain and loss you have endured. My prayer is that memories of happier times with Marilyn will soon fill your hearts. God bless all of you and keep you in His care. With fondness, Mary Ann Gray
Dear Jim, I just heard of your great loss. May our God comfort you in the sure knowledge of the resurrection where we will all be together again rejoicing. God be with you always my friend. With Christian Love, David
God only picks the prettiest blossoms but I know you will miss her. My prayers are with you at this time.
You probably will not remember me, but I remember all of you, and especially the wonderful Marilyn. I am sister of Benita Longoria, and when I used to visit my sister there, we usually had a bridge game. Marilyn played, and with her came an adorable beagle. We also shared a love of Lake Tahoe, most aspects of teaching, and activity. Please accept my sincere sadness at her passing, and also my feelings for you, her family. Olive Rathjen
I was so terribly saddened to hear of Marilyn’s passing. She was my teacher at SMH and had a tuly lasting impact on my life. I always tried to emulate her teaching style and to live up to her expectations of me. She left a lasting legacy in the hearts of her students and those of us who loved her and Polka Dot. My prayers are with her beloved family at this time. My love to all.
I am so sorry to hear about Mrs. Rindfuss’ death ,. She was a wonderful person . I have fond memories of her at Saint Mary’s Hall . I was terrible at math and Mrs. Rindfuss’ love and tutoring got me through High School . I later went on to College and Graduate School and could never have attained my Masters Degree in Psychology without the help I had from her in High School . I have used her example of hard work with many clients in my practice . My thoughts are with your family.
Jim, Allen and Bryan, I was so sorry to hear about Marilyn’s death. I have so many fond memories of her from my days at SMH (I was in the class of ’87). She was a wonderful teacher who took the drudgery out of pre-calculus and calculus and made math something I remember fondly, instead of with dread like so many I know. Due to her tutelage, hers was the last math class I ever took, since I was able to place out of all college math requirements at UT. She certainly is an enduring memory for me. I have a vivid picture of her in my mind standing in front of the classroom with a piece of chalk making a point or giving an illustration. It is so clear that it might have been last week instead of nearly 20 years ago that I last saw her. Claudia Pegues Barlow SMH Class of 1987
Jim and boys, I’m so very sorry about Marilyn’s death. I met Marilyn on the tennis court when I was eleven years old. She took me under her wing, coaching me for the next ten years. Her guidence and love where always important to me. My prayers are with you.
Jim, Bryan, and Allen I am so sorry for your loss. I have sush great memories of her and the times that I spent at your house. Bryan-It has been a very long time but I would like to catch up with you in the future at some point.
Jim: We are so very sorry to hear of the death of Marilyn. You will be able to cherish so many wonderful memories of her. Our prayers are with you, Allen, and Bryan. Sincerely and love, Bennie & Gay
Never have I met a person like Marilyn, who touched and influenced so many lives as a friend, colleague, teacher, mentor. She will live on in our hearts and souls. My thoughts and prayers are with you, Jim, Allen, Bryan, and the rest of Marilyn’s immediate and extended family, including all of her “furry” friends.
What an incredible woman. I will miss your wisdom, smile, and general love for life that you possessed. Marilyn was one in a million.
She was such a great person to work with. A friendlier person I have never met. I will miss her hugs.
I collaborated with Marilyn only briefly, but I will never forget her enthusiasm and confidence. She will be sorely missed.
My husband Doug and I were so saddened by Marilyn’s death. She was like a mother to both of us. When I joined the Harcourt psychometric team six years ago, she was the first person to believe in me. She encouraged and mentored me and helped me to shine. She was also a tremendous role model for Doug who worked with Marilyn on several mathematics assessments. We will always cherish the wornderful memories that we shared with her. I am especially thankful for the time that we spent together traveling in Hawaii, California, Mississippi, and Nevada on Harcourt business trips. I also cherish the red wine glasses that she gave us for our wedding. We honor her each time we drink from them. She was such a wonderful mentor, teacher, and friend. She will be deeply missed, but will live in our hearts for the rest of our lives. God Bless your family.
Marilyn was such a special and personal friend of mine. I have known and loved her for over 15 years. She, Kathleen Keyes and I used to go to dinner ever so often just to relax and talk about our lives and experiences outside the workplace. She was such a delightful person and one that anyone had to respect upon meeting her and getting to know her. Since my position with the Publisher and President of Harcourt gave me opportunities to know many of our employees, I had a chance to work closely from time to time with people like Marilyn. She jokingly referred to me as “Boss” because I had helped her at different times with projects when she was preparing for a long trip — and for the rest of our time together here at Harcourt, she would always say “Hi Boss” whenever she saw me in the hallway or in the cafeteria. I always went along with the “joke” and would ask her, “Why aren’t you at your desk?” She would come back with, “Yes, Boss — I’m on my way there now!” That’s the kind of camaraderie I experienced with Marilyn Rindfuss. She was one of a kind — and she will be sorely missed!
Although I knew Marilyn for only a short time, beginning with work on a Harcourt state assessment project in 2004, I will never forget her nor the tremendously positive impact she has had on those with whom she had contact. A very professional lady with a beautiful personality and caring nature that will never be forgotten…Marilyn lives on because of the life she lived. My deepest sympathy and prayers are with you.
Dear Family and friends, My sincere condolences. I met Marilyn here at Harcourt and got to know her more this summer in Virginia. She was so gracious and I marveled at her expertise in our field. After the meetings, we would go out to dinner often at her favorite place, La Grotta in downtown Richmond. Her humor was phenonmenal. She was a delightful soul and she will be greatly missed. May God bless you and comfort you during this difficult time.
When I think of Marilyn, I remember the many trips we made to California. The math group we worked with was made up of some of the best minds in the country. They thought Marilyn was a rock star! I loved how she had them eating out of her hand. She was much loved and adored by the group. I am proud to say I am a much better person for knowing her. May God bless her family and the many friends she left behind.
Marilyn Rindfuss was my Calculus teacher my senior year in high school in San Antonio in ’79-’80. She quickly became one of the best friends I’ve ever had. She was truly extraordinary…smart, accomplished, but also a wonderful mother, mentor, and friend. A truly well-rounded person.
I can’t think of a person who influenced me more in such a short amount of time–and always toward self-improvement and empathy for others, especially students in public school classrooms. I’ve always had a fear and paranoia about well-educated individuals I meet, as I’ve always felt my education before college was lacking, and that I was too ignorant to recognize it until I had someting different to compare it to. Was it too late to catch up, or was it impossible to make up for lost time? Marilyn made it clear–it’s not where you come from, it’s what you do with what you know, and how much you seek to know and understand more. If you’re not getting more questions than answers, you’re not really looking all that hard. Those questions are what keep you moving forward. Always a hug and a smile of recognition, no matter how much time since the last time we met up–I’ll never forget how loved and respected I felt each time we talked shop.
On the evening of Feb. 5, I had a wonderful dream about Marilyn, and she asked me to pass along this message to her family and friends. In the dream, her friends and family were having a picnic atop a high mountain. It was one of the most beautiful days I had ever seen. The birds were singing sweetly, the grass was most green, the sky was a perfect blue, the sun was shinning brightly and there were hundreds of people enjoying this party. Marilyn was the hostess and she was greeting everyone individually with a hug and a big smile. We saw a ship with sails emerging from the clouds above us and we all watched as it slowly decended to the mountain top, along one side of the ship was a long gold and silver rope. When the ship came closer, Marilyn reached up for that rope and took hold of it. It gently lifted her up into the air and she laughed as it did so. Soon the ship was moving toward the edge of the moutain top, and Marilyn was trying to let go of the golden silver rope, but when she realized that she couldn’t, she looked at us and said to us it was inevitable and no matter how much she wanted to stay with us, it was time to leave. We watched as she held the golden silver rope and it slowly raised her into the ship. A few moments later I was on that ship, and she had the widest smile on her face and a crystal glass filled with champagne in her hand. She lifted her glass and said, “Tell everyone that I love them, and that I had a great time”
Marilyn, Thanks for all you did for so many of us. We miss you. Ed
Dear Jim and family, I am so sorry to hear of Marilyn’s passing. I have know her since her Trinity coaching days while I attended UT-Austin. She was always very nice to me and we had some great doubles matches. She will be missed by the tennis community.
I’m so sorry to hear of her passing. I had not seen Marilyn since high school days, but remember her as being a very sweet and kind person. She obviously touched many lives in positive ways. I’m sorry we didn’t keep in touch. Condolences to your family and friends.
My deepest condolences to Marilyn’s family. I worked with Marilyn in Arizona on our state math standards. She was an inspiring educator and so much fun to work with. I will miss her greatly.
Jim, How blessed I have been to have Marilyn as a part of my life. I’ll always remember the fascinating conversations we had about grammar. As I’m sure you know all too well, math wasn’t the only subject she was an expert in discussing. I’ll treasure the memory of the presentation that Marilyn, Jackie, and I made at the Preps Winter Conference. Marilyn mesmerized the audience in a way no one else could because she never forgot what being in the classroom was like. I’ll also cherish the time spent with you and Marilyn in your home, talking about our lives away from the hustle and bustle of work. Losing Marilyn has left a hole in many lives, but we can choose to fill that hole with the joy that she brought to our lives. My thoughts and prayers continue to be with you in the days and months to come.
Dear Jim, Marilyn made my life a better place at SMH…Her dry sense of humor made me laugh…My visits with her on Sundays, when we would both go to work, were filled with wonderful stories of the days at AHJS when I was a student there and she was a new teacher…and she shared her philosophy of life and teaching with a novice teacher…She was a very special friend when I needed one…You, Allen and Bryan are in my thoughts and prayers now and always…Ilene Arbetter
Dear Allen, Bryan, & Jim Rindfuss, Words cannot begin to express how shocked and sorry I was to hear of Marilyn’s passing. She was a beacon of light within the world of standardized testing. I came to know your mom through her work on the California Standards Test. I served on the content review panel, where we looked at all the proposed items and vetted them for content, allignment with standard, and suitability for the test. Discussion on this panel was frequently contentious, sometimes heated, and often directed towards the provider of the items. As an important piece of the controversial reforms that were taking place in California K-12 math educational, this was inevitable. Your mom impressed me in many ways. She clearly knew the math and was sensitive to the nuances that the mathematicians often brought up. She also knew testing inside and out, and could predict “p values” of items before they were field tested. I recall clearly one discussion where we were arguing about the mathematical merits of an item and had reached an impasse. At which point Marilyn pointed out that she predicted very low reliability for this item, so we should just toss it out on those grounds. Her amazing composure in the face of everything that was coming at her struck me as something I would like to emulate, though I’m sure I could never achieve her levels. Marilyn was one of the few people in standardized testing who understood the dangerous inappropriateness of “pattern problems” in multiple-choice assessment. We shared several examples back and forth, even after Harcourt no longer had the California contact. Of the many people outside my own profession that I’ve met through educational outreach, she’s one of the very few that I maintained some contact with after our professional relationship ended. I think the number of days I actually saw your mom in person can be counted on my fingers, the number of days I had any contact with her at all on my fingers and toes. Yet her passing saddens me greatly, and I am compelled to write this letter with tears welling up in my eyes. She was an amazing person. Please accept my heartfelt condolences. Tom Roby
I was shocked to hear of Marilyn’s illness and death. She was a dear friend of Evelyn’s. Thank you for letting us know.
Jim, Allen, and Bryan, My heart aches for you. Love and a big hug, Sarah Mayo
Hi Mr. Rindfuss, Malcolm, my eighth grader is loving Algebra although he dislikes arithmetic. This reminded my of Mrs. Rindfuss and how I was floored as a 10th grader at SMH when she admitted that she didn’t care for “crunching numbers” but advised us to “grit our teeth and bear it.” I hope Marilyn knows just how much she means to me and Malcolm too.