Remembering Marcia Tammen

Marcia showing the back of the framed print she won at church the day Ron disappeared.

Dear AGMIHTF family,

I’m heartbroken to share the news of the passing of Marcia Tammen, Ronald’s only sister. Marcia died this morning of complications from a chronic health condition. She would have been 78 on September 30.

Marcia was only ten years old when Ron disappeared, but she carried his memory and the hope of finding him with her all her life.

On the day of her brother’s disappearance, Marcia had won a framed print at her church after memorizing 18 verses of the Bible. The print was of Christ at Heart’s Door, by Warner Sallman. On the back, her teacher had written: “Only one life—‘Twill soon be past. Only what’s done for Christ will last.” Marcia kept that print with her for the next 67 years.

Marcia was my go-to source and confidante as I was conducting my research about Ron, and she was always open to whatever information I sent her way. A couple times each year, we’d meet up at Wendy’s or Bob Evans’ near her home, and I’d fill her in on updates. She’d listen intently to what I had to say, taking meticulous notes, and then would usually respond with, “Well…that sounds interesting. Keep up the good work.” She was warm, kind, and unflappable in a Midwestern sort of way.

The last time I saw her was this past February, just before the coronavirus impacted all of our lives. She was interviewed in her apartment by a Cincinnati TV reporter about Ron’s disappearance, and did a beautiful job sharing her thoughts about her family’s loss. The segment never aired because of COVID-19, but I’m so glad that we had the chance to do it. After our interviews, Marcia, her roommate Jule, and I drove to a local diner and had lunch together and gabbed like old friends. On the drive home, Marcia wanted me to look at a building I was driving by and she suddenly raised her arm to point it out. I thought she was telling me to take a quick left, and I jerked the wheel and very nearly rolled the car. Usually, she kept a straight face with me, but this time, she started cracking up, again, like an old friend. That was cool.

Every time someone associated with the Tammen mystery passes away, I feel as if I’ve let that person down. I really wanted to solve this in time. In fact, I’ve always pictured throwing a big party, and getting us all together, hopefully with Ron showing up as the main attraction. This one hurts so much.

Here’s a link to Marcia’s obituary. Many thanks to Jule Miller, Brenda Battista Green, and Cassidy Conway for sharing your memories of her with me.

10 thoughts on “Remembering Marcia Tammen

  1. You’ve thrown a lot of light on a dark place in Marcia’s life. While much is left to discover, I think you’ve at least shown Ron didn’t wantonly abandon his family forever.

    1. Yes, I discussed pretty much everything with Marcia. She shared with me that her mother had thought Ron might have gotten amnesia from hitting his head while making his bed. I had the feeling Marcia liked that theory a lot. But based on my understanding of the two main causes of amnesia — dissociative and organic — only dissociative would affect past memories/identity. Severe head trauma would affect a person’s ability to retain new information. Only dissociative amnesia caused by emotional trauma affects one’s identity. So if Ron did have any amnesia, bumping his head wouldn’t have been the cause. Marcia also remembered her dad saying that he felt J. Edgar Hoover seemed to know more than he was letting on, so she liked where that part of my research was going. She was open to pretty much every possibility.

      1. Oops, P.S. As for others, John came to believe that Ron was in the “wrong place at the right time” –that he may have overheard something that he shouldn’t have, and so was killed.

  2. Sorry to hear of this big loss Jenny. Please don’t let this make you feel you have let her down. She knew how hard you are trying and I’m sure she appreciated your efforts. You have demonstrated great tenacity with this case. I’m impressed and so very proud of you.

  3. My first thought Jennifer after Marcia passed was making sure you knew you truly were Marcia’s hope . . .and one she trusted.
    As Marcia’s health deteriorated in front of my eyes, my families . . .I believe Marcia just had to wait till 9.28 a.m. 8/31/2020 to meet Jesus, and see or have her answer to Ronald,Jr.

    1. Thanks so much for this, Jule — it means a lot. It was my privilege to get to know Marcia and you during this project in addition to the rest of the Tammen family. I valued her trust so much. I really enjoyed spending the day with you, your daughter, and your granddaughter today discussing her life and how much she meant to each of you. And of course I LOVE the possibility that she’s catching up with Ron Jr. as we speak.

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