Shirley Green Marvin is a political activist and art collector and patron. She is the mother of three children and several grandchildren and great grandchildren. Shirley was born in Boston Massachusetts on July 2, 1922. She was the third of 4 children of Marion and Isadore Green, a Jewish family that found success with The Green Brothers Five and Dime and eventual real estate deals. Shirley attended public schools in Newton, MA before attending and graduating from Wellesley College in 1943 with a degree in political science.
In 1945, Shirley married World War ll fighter pilot and real estate developer Wilbur Marvin a 1943 Harvard graduate with a major in business. They lived in New York City in the late 40’s and had their first two children before moving to Bayshore, Long Island. In 1952, they moved to Baton Rouge Louisiana where Wilbur developed shopping centers and Shirley became active in the League of Women Voters during the time of Earl Long. She served as the League’s representative on the Baton Rouge City Council which put her in the center of meeting many of the active politicians of that time. In 1958, she had her third child and continued her devotion to raising the children, supporting her husband and helping her community.
In the early 60’s her interest in art led her to Larry Borenstien’s art store in the French Quarter. It was here that she became part of Larry’s Saturday morning Get Together’s at the Gallery where she soon met Noel Rockmore, an artist who had attained fame in New York early as Noel Davis and then changed his name to Rockmore when he came to New Orleans. Larry’s gatherings included artist, developers and many of the French Quarter characters that made up the tight knit, protective and eclectic community. She became an early patron and collector of the artist Rockmore as he also became a part of The French Quarter Community.
In the late 60’s and early 70s, Shirley stayed politically active while raising her children and supporting her very successful husband whose shopping center empire grew and thrived. She also remained a regular visitor to the French Quarter as Preservation Hall and the Jazz & Heritage Festival became well known institutions and Rockmore became a recognized artist again. Shirley took graduate courses at LSU and eventually earned a Masters degree in sociology. She also worked closely with Jesse Bankston who was the head of the State Democratic Party of Louisiana. This led to co-chairing the Jimmy Carter campaign for President in Louisiana.
At the end of the 70’s, Shirley’s marriage with Wilbur ended in divorce. A protracted divorce settlement period of 6 years led to her to going to work for The Louisiana State Department of Education as an administrator in special education. She chaired a committee to create a Women’s Pavilion for the World’s Fair to be held in New Orleans in 1984. This position led to working with then Governor Edwin Edwards hosting a fundraiser featuring Hal Linden (Barney Miller) at the Governor’s mansion in Baton Rouge. By the mid 80s, Shirley decided to make the move to New Orleans moving into the just opened Warehouse District near the newly constructed Convention Center and Riverwalk. She continued her involvement in local politics working for now senator Mary Landrieu in her early elections and the Michael Dukakis campaign for President in 1988.
In the early 90’s, Shirley produced a Film, Rockmore, to bring attention to the artist she had championed for over 30 years. Upon Rockmore’s death in 1995, she began working with the New Orleans Museum of Art to put together a retrospective that occurred in 1998. This retrospective featured a panel discussion that included longtime friend and Jazz festival promoter, George Wein. After Katrina in 2005, Shirley relocated to Baton Rouge leaving her beloved New Orleans. In 2006, her children discovered over 1400 works of art and 35 years worth of letters and documentation in her storage in New Orleans. Since then, Shirley has helped them in their collaborative effort with The Rockmore-Davis Family called The Noel Rockmore Project.