December 12: Mary Ellen L’Hommedieu Tank (2006)

Mary Ellen “Marelyn” Tank was active in the Democratic Party for over 30 years. She served as president of Woman’s National Democratic Club from 1985 to 1987. Mrs. Tank was born in Madison, Wisconsin. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin and studied at the Sorbonne in Paris. She married Martin Tank, who during World War II was an Army cryptographer based in Washington. Mrs. Tank worked in the prisoner of war division of the National Red Cross and taught foreign languages in local middle and senior high schools. When her husband became a Foreign Service officer after World War II, Mrs. Tank joined him overseas. Based in Paris from 1948 to 1956, she and other embassy wives took lessons at Le Cordon Bleu culinary school, launching one of them (Julia Child) on a new career. Mrs. Tank taught grass-roots democracy at the American Quaker Center in Germany, chaired the embassy speaker’s bureau in London, encouraged education for girls in Libya, edited a magazine for the U.S. community and worked with a school for the blind in Bangkok, and co-chaired the embassy refugee program in Saigon.

Mrs. Tank held a number of leadership roles in the Democratic Club. She was program co-ordinator for the 1992 Clinton-Gore campaign, and frequently acted as a mentor for younger women. In the 1960s, she worked for the Democratic National Committee and on the staff of Rep. James Roosevelt (D-CA). She also served as a board member, annual concert chairwoman and vice president of the United Nations Association of the National Capital Area. Along with close friend and fellow Epiphany parishioner Marcelle Clark, Marelyn Tank was a strong voice for women at the church. Mrs. Tank served on Epiphany’s vestry. Following her passing on December 12, 2006, a memorial eucharist for Marelyn Tank was held at the church. Memorial contributions were designated for the Womans’ National Democratic Club Educational Foundation.

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