Marianne Maloney Dowling was one of six women to graduate from Fordham Law School in 1965. Though she passed away on Jan. 30 at the age of 79, her indomitable spirit lives on.
Dowling was born to Elmer and Mary Maloney of Scarsdale, Westchester, on Dec. 13, 1941—seven days after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. As the third of four children, she was fiercely independent. She often shared fond memories about attending summer camp in Maine, where she learned wilderness skills and became a junior Maine guide.
Dowling’s father, Elmer, was an entrepreneur who owned multiple businesses and multi-family residential properties.
“He was not the type of dad to say, ‘Oh, girls don’t do that,'” said Dowling’s daughter Katherine. “A lot of women went to college in her socio-economic class during that time, but most of them did not then go on to graduate school. My grandfather was always very encouraging of her academic interests.”
Pursuing Her Passions
Dowling was an honors graduate of Annunciation School, The Ursuline School in New Rochelle, Manhattanville College of the Sacred Heart, and Fordham Law School. She was always encouraged to think outside the box and once received the advice, “Don’t learn to type because they’ll stick you into an administrative role.”
“As a very good writer and a student of history, she found law school academically interesting because law always intertwined with history,” Katherine said, also noting her mother’s love for Winston Churchill and the trans-Atlantic trips she took with her grandchildren
“My mom was somebody who would not sit in the corner, and she would get along with everyone. She enjoyed her fellow male classmates because she found them interesting,” Katherine added. “But she did have people say to her, ‘Well, how do you feel about taking the place of a man in that class?’ Those were the comments people made without even trying to be ‘mean.'”
A Fordham Law Romance
Dowling and her former husband Roderick grew up in Scarsdale, but did not reconnect until meeting again at Fordham Law. Both were recognized for their academic aptitude and were recipients of academic scholarships while attending the Law School. They used to carpool from Westchester to the Lincoln Center campus with three of their classmates. The couple began dating at the end of their 2L year, got engaged at the beginning of their 3L year, and got married soon after graduating from Fordham Law.
“They got into lots of fun stuff,” Katherine said of her parents’ carpool group. “There were some days when they would play hooky and go to the local court to listen to cases—just to check it out and try their knowledge on for size.”
Another fond memory Katherine has is being told the time when her parents’ torts professor called them out during class. “There was one class where my dad got called on and he didn’t have the right answer,” Katherine said. “So, the teacher said, ‘Maybe your fiancée could enlighten us.'”
A Trailblazer in Georgia
After graduating from Fordham Law in 1965, Dowling began her career at Mutual of New York (MONY) Financial Services in Manhattan. She was later recruited by former Georgia Governor Carl Sanders to join his firm, Troutman, Sanders, Lockerman & Ashmore, in 1973. Dowling was the first woman associate in the history of the firm in 1973 and was named the firm’s first woman partner in 1976.
“A lot of what my mom did back then is kind of the norm now—but what she was doing then was not what most of her peers did or cared to do,” Katherine said. “She was this great example of a woman who could have a family, have a career, make money, and still have time to coach the kids’ softball team.”
Dowling returned to MONY in 1978 as assistant general counsel and became vice president in 1985. She retired as vice president of diversified operations and came back a few years later to help oversee an insurance firm and fabric design company called Town Toiles.
Dowling was an active Fordham Law alumna, having attended numerous reunions in New York City and California. Katherine said her mother also attended a few of Fordham Law’s virtual events and programs within the last year—to keep her engaged during the pandemic.
On Feb. 24, more than 100 of Dowling’s closest family and friends gathered virtually to commemorate her life by sharing photos, videos, and personal stories in a heartwarming tribute to an “inspirational tour de force.”
Dowling is survived by her two daughters, Anne of St. Petersburg, FL, and Katherine of Tiburon, CA; five grandchildren (all of whom she taught to read), William, Oliver, Charles, Cameron, and Phoebe; sister Carol Connors of Somers, NY; brother Raymond Maloney of Tucson, AZ; and her former husband Roderick Dowling of Atlanta, GA, with whom she remained lifelong friends.
Katherine and her sister Anne hope to establish a scholarship fund for future women at Fordham Law in their mother’s memory.
“Fordham accepted her and gave her that opportunity to learn and succeed. I don’t think every school was accepting women at that point and was so receptive to it,” Katherine said. “My mom had gratitude towards Fordham Law because they did accept her and because she was welcomed and had such a nice experience there.”
Katherine added, “We thought it would be nice to give back to Fordham in some way.”