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In memoriam: Marjorie Appleman was playwright, FFRF donor

Marjorie Appleman speaks at the 2002 FFRF convention. Behind her is her husband Philip Appleman. (Photo by Brent Nicastro)

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is very saddened to announce the death of Marjorie Appleman. Margie was believed to be in her early 90s.

Marjorie was a playwright and After-Life Member of FFRF, who was married to Philip Appleman, a renowned poet, ardent freethinker and Darwin scholar. FFRF had been informed belatedly of Phil’s death, which occurred at age 94 on April 11, 2020, and was told that Marjorie had survived him. 

We have since learned that Marjorie died just a few days before Phil, as is so often the case with longtime couples. They had been together for nearly 67 years. Phil had been Marjorie’s primary caretaker for many years after she was afflicted by cancer and other illnesses.

They were the quintessential devoted couple and their love story was immortalized in many of Phil’s poems. He read some of these on “Bill Moyers” in 2015, when he was 88. Google “Bill Moyers Philip Appleman” to watch that interview and bonus poetry readings. They were a beautiful, glamorous, witty couple who retired permanently to New York City, after giving up wintering in Florida, when climate change was battering their home.

Poets & Writers Directory lists that Marjorie wrote a book of poetry, Against Time (Birnham Wood, 1994) and her fiction was published in such journals as Confrontation, Kentucky Poetry Review, Long Island Quarterly, Poetry Pilot, Poetry Review, Sojourner and Wind. She was fluent in French.

She often accompanied Phil on his poetry readings, including to three national FFRF conventions. Marjorie read the female parts of Phil’s epic, humorous poem “Noah.” They gamely recorded this for FFRF in a New York studio, where it is included on FFRF’s DVD, “Beware of Dogma” and can be found on YouTube.

FFRF’s memorial tribute to Phil from the November 2020 Freethought Today may be viewed at

FFRF was recently informed that the Applemans left a bequest of more than $150,000 to FFRF. 

“We treasure their memory and their words. Their photograph adorns the walls of the editorial wing of FFRF’s office, Freethought Hall, in Madison,” says FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor. “And now we are indebted even more to them for their posthumous support of FFRF and our work. We honor their legacy.”