On a warm spring day in 1969, Marilyn Harris was teaching art when a white dove flew into her classroom. There were 60 open windows on that side of the school (she counted later), but the rare white dove chose to fly into hers. This daughter of a Methodist minister knew a sign when she saw one and took that as an encouragement from God to quit teaching and become a full-time artist, which she had long wanted to do.
“I got all my brushes out and started painting, completing nine before I showed anyone,” said Marilyn, who is a resident of The Tradition-Prestonwood. Equipped with an art degree from the University of Alabama, Marilyn proceeded to carve out a successful career as a painter, produce a children’s book that she authored and illustrated, and create many Christmas cards that raised millions for non-profit organizations.
“I prayed three prayers, and if all three were answered affirmatively, then I could move forward.”
Her decision to become an artist also led to the opening of a now-famous store and restaurant. “In 1986, my brother told me I should open a store in Waxahachie and sell my art as well as gifts,” said Marilyn, who was not initially keen on the idea. At the time, she and her husband lived in Duncanville, and a store would mean a lengthy, daily commute. She also had no idea if it would succeed.
“I prayed three prayers, and if all three were answered affirmatively, then I could move forward,” she said in her soothing, rich voice. First, she would need enough money to buy the stock for the store (a sizeable, unexpected check came in the mail with just the right amount); she would need some antiques with which to furnish the store (a friend offered a garage-full of antiques she wasn’t using); and, finally, physical support would be necessary to set the store up (another friend, Linda Coppinger, provided help and threw herself into opening “Marilyn’s Art and Gifts”).
“The business grew, and I was happy every day.”
“The business grew, and I was happy every day,” said Marilyn of her 8 ½-year commute to Waxahachie. That store has now been taken over by her daughter and son-in-law, Cindy and Andrew Burch. Situated on the corner of the old town square, it includes an added, very successful restaurant and today is called – appropriately – the Dove’s Nest.
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