Marcia Muth was a librarian, a poet, a publisher, a painter and a woman who, by her own admission, never let her lack of knowledge stop her from going forward.

“I figured I’d learn as I went, and I did,” the longtime Santa Fe resident once said.

Muth, who was named a Living Treasure in 2006, died at her Santa Fe home Friday, surrounded by family, friends and a beloved Maine coon cat called B.C. — short for Big Cat. She was 94 years old. Though she had no children, she is survived by her spouse, Jody Ellis, who also was honored as a Living Treasure in 2006.

Muth was born in Fort Wayne, Ind., in 1919. She earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Michigan and worked as a librarian for years. In the mid-1960s, she moved to Santa Fe for her health, initially working as a reference librarian for the state. Shortly thereafter, she met Ellis at a party. The two were together for more than 45 years and married in Santa Fe last year.

The couple founded the literary magazine Sunstone Review, which eventually grew into Sunstone Press, still in operation. They hired Jim Smith as the company’s president in 1976. Speaking by phone Wednesday, Smith said, “I learned so much from her [Muth] about so many things that have nothing to do with anything but living a good life.”

Santa Fean Marilyn Fisher, who said she knew Muth for 30 years, said the latter’s “generosity, creativity, intellect and sense of humor were pretty keyed to who she was. … She really took the place of a mother for me. She had an extraordinarily dry sense of humor and was an avid reader until the very end.”

Fisher said animals played a big role in the late artist’s life.

Roz Eisenberg (named a Living Treasure in 2012) also said by phone Wednesday that Muth “loved cats and dogs. And most of them came to her front door and asked to be let in please. And she always let them in.”

Among other achievements, Muth — and Ellis — ghost-wrote articles for The National Enquirer in the 1970s on such topics as “what kind of person are you if you have a certain type of dog?” and “What watching television does to your mind,” according to a 2010 article in The New Mexican.

Muth did not begin painting until the mid-1970s. Her work focused on people and places. Eisenberg recalled a painting Muth did of her 1960s Sena Plaza bookstore that re-imagined how it would have looked in the 1930s.

In 2005, Muth, who was then 86, told The New Mexican, “I’m marching toward 90, so it’s important to make the most of every day.” The secret to her creativity and youthful vigor, she said, was simple: “Never grow up.”

Smith said he believed Muth would live forever. “She was one of those who seemed to be immortal,” he said.

According to Eisenberg, Muth did not want any sort of memorial service.

Contact Robert Nott at 986-3021 or rnott@sfnewmexican.com.

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