Lydie Roberts Marland
BY Associated Press
Jul 28, 1987
11/20/09 at 2:50 PM
PONCA CITY – Lydie Roberts Marland, widow and one-time adopted daughter of Gov. E.W. Marland, died Saturday at a Ponca City nursing home. She was 87.
Mrs. Marland, a recluse after the 1941 death of her husband, received national publicity when she disappeared in 1953. A 1958 article in the Saturday Evening Post plus articles in Kansas City newspapers speculated on the events of the disappearance.
Her whereabouts remained unknown until she returned to Ponca City in 1975.
The Marland Mansion, which had been sold to the Carmelite Fathers in 1938 and to the Felician Sisters in 1948, was purchased by the city of Ponca City in 1975 and Mrs. Marland had lived in a small stone house, walled in by the estate, off and on since her return.
Mrs. Marland and her older brother, George Roberts, came to Ponca City as children from their home in Flourtown, Pa., a suburb of Philadelphia, to live with her wealthy aunt, Mary Virginia Collins Marland, and her uncle by marriage, oilman E.W. Marland.
The Marlands, childless for 15 years, formally adopted Lydie and George when they were 10 and 12 years old and provided them with the advantages of a prosperous lifestyle.
Two years after Mary Virginia Marland’s death, Lydie Marland’s adoption was annulled and Marland and she were married at the home of her parents in Flourtown. Marland was 54 and Mrs. Marland was 28.
She was described as a slender, charming girl with dark brown hair, touched with an auburn cast, and dark, almost olive complexion.
A painting of Mrs. Marland dressed as Carmen, hangs in the ballroom of the Marland Mansion. A statue of her once stood on the north side of the mansion.
The marriage came as Marland was riding high as an oilman. During this time, the Marland Mansion – the palace on the prairie – was constructed on a 2,000-acre estate in Ponca City.
Marland’s entire financial structure collapsed in the Wall Street crash of 1929. In 1931 he was elected to Congress and in 1934 was elected governor of Oklahoma.
Mrs. Marland was a shy first lady and often wore dark glasses when visiting at the Capitol.
After Marland’s term as governor, the couple returned to Ponca City. Marland made several unsuccessful attempts to be elected to Congress.
After her husband’s death in 1941, Mrs. Marland took no part in the happenings at the mansion but did write an open letter to the public asking them to purchase the property for preservation.
Later, she agreed to be an unpaid consultant and toured the mansion, recalling for the Marland Estate Commission, which is in the process of furnishing and restoring the mansion, the location and type of furniture in it.
E.M. Trout and Sons Funeral Directors said the burial service in the Ponca City Mausoleum will be private but a memorial service is planned for Aug. 6 in the chapel of the Marland Mansion.