Marilyn Samples Dyess

marilyn dyess

October 7, 1947 ~ June 25, 2023

Born in: Vicksburg, Mississippi
Resided in: College Station, Texas

Marilyn Jeanette Samples Dyess passed away at the age of 75 on June 25, 2023, in College Station, Texas, after a brief illness that took her unexpectedly from our midst. Her family loved her as a wife, mother, grandmother, sister, and daughter while her many friends and colleagues appreciated her as a talented vocalist, dedicated administrator, and valued teacher.

Born in Vicksburg, Mississippi, Marilyn was the second of Eual Emery Samples and Willetta Dixie Satchfield’s five children. Her father’s vocation as a minister in the United Methodist Church took the family to more than a few towns in central and southern Mississippi including Fayette, Newton, Hattiesburg, Laurel, Yazoo City, Canton, and Jackson. Graduating in 1964 from Jackson’s Provine High School, her classmates assigned her an honorable description: “Quiet dignity, subtle humor, a true friend.”

Marilyn received a gifted voice and an ear for music from her mother and found her love of singing in the youth choir at church. She soon progressed to her school choir, honing her abilities with coaching from a professor of vocal music at Millsaps College. Upon enrolling at Millsaps, her talent was recognized when she was awarded solos in the Millsaps Singers that first year. Marilyn’s college training culminated in a guest soloist appearance with the New Orleans Symphony when they performed Francis Poulenc’s Gloria in Jackson.

Marilyn received her bachelor’s degree in music in the spring of 1969 and married Richard Henry Dyess, Jr., that fall in a small house wedding officiated by her father. They welcomed their first daughter, Adrienne, the following year. From Jackson, the family moved first to Houston, Texas, and then halfway around the world to Singapore. No opportunity to use vocal talent readily presented itself in this small Asian country, but a lifetime of memories was made while experiencing a world much wider than previously known. Upon returning to Houston, their second daughter, Liza, was born.

With her children growing and entering school, Marilyn found an outlet for her talent in the church choir, the Houston Tuesday Musical Club, and then Maginnisingers when the group was first formed. During the week she managed the family home and raised her daughters, but on Friday nights for many years, Marilyn could be found at Congregation Emanu El as a staff singer in the Jewish synagogue.

In 1988, Marilyn jumped at the chance to join the Houston Symphony’s staff as the symphony chorus manager. For ten years, she was the efficient right hand of the chorus director, managed rehearsals and performances, and coordinated tours abroad to Europe and Mexico City while also singing with the chorus. Many friendships with talented people were a treasured part of this time in her life.

Marilyn’s next staff singing position landed her at Christ Church Cathedral, where she fell in love with the Episcopal church. She felt at home in the liturgy, which she said reminded her of the churches of her youth. In her daytime job, Marilyn used her gift for administration at Trinity Episcopal Church in Houston followed by St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Bellaire. Through the Episcopal church, Marilyn became first a participant and then an instructor in the theological education program, Education for Ministry. Studying, leading, and engaging in theological reflection with other adults led her to a deeper understanding of her Christian values and love for all of God’s people.

Retiring from full-time work in 2018, Marilyn enjoyed her part-time position at the Cathedral as an assistant to the canon for music. With the passing of her husband, she moved to College Station to be near her daughter, Liza, and enjoy a slower pace of life. Although she missed her family of friends at the Cathedral in Houston, she was blessed with new friendships at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church and the Brazos Valley Chorale.

Left to cherish her love are daughter Adrienne Dyess Danke and husband Michael of Houston, daughter Liza Dyess Becker of College Station, and grandchildren Andrew and Cleo Danke and Nora Autery. Surviving siblings include Kaye Pace, Larry Samples, and Ellyn Newell of Mississippi and Lynne Lott of Alabama. Marilyn’s husband of 49 and a half years and her parents preceded her in death.

Marilyn’s family invites her many friends to join them in remembering her life at a memorial service on August 5, 2023, to be held at 2:00 in the afternoon at Christ Church Cathedral, 1117 Texas Avenue, in Houston, Texas. Her ashes will be committed to the earth afterward in a private service at the memorial garden of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church.

Express condolences at


Memorial Service: August 5, 2023 2:00 pm - 4:00 pm

Christ Church Cathedral
1117 Texas Avenue
Houston, Texas 77002

View current weather.

Memories Timeline


  1. What a beautiful tribute to a life well lived. Adrienne and Liza I’m heartbroken for your loss and you and your families are in my prayers.

  2. Marilyn was a lovely friend and colleague during my years at Trinity Church and when filling in as organist for Saint Marks Church. I will always fondly remember her beautiful and generous spirit.

  3. I first got to know Marilyn when I was renovating the organ at Trinity Church. Every day I would be greeted by her warm smile (and perfectly coifed hair!) as I passed through the doors with my tools. One day when I was working at Christ Church I was surprised to hear her incredible singing voice. I had no idea she could sing like that! Marilyn was a golden spirit that brought joy to all who knew her.

  4. My lasting memory of Marilyn is her calling me aside after a Houston Symphony Chorus rehearsal. We were preparing for a European tour. She said, “I have a favor to ask of your husband (who was going with me as Chief Bag Carrier). Do you think he would mind if my daughter Adrienne tagged along with him while we are in rehearsals during the day? I just don’t think she’d do well with some of the older wives who are joining us.” Well, Brian and Adrienne had a great time doing laundry and searching for Calvin and Hobbes books in German for Adrienne’s then-boyfriend, now-husband. After that trip, Marilyn and I had a tiny bond, which made me feel special.

Sign the Guestbook, Light a Candle

Accessibility Tools
construction update map

Due to the construction on S College Ave our facility is only accessible via Dellwood St. Please refer to this map for reference. Dellwood St can be accessed via Cavitt Ave and Texas Ave.

For more information, please visit the Bryan, TX website.