Marilyn Tang

October 28, 1936 - September 7, 2021


Marilyn Millet W. Tang, our "Nana Tang," entered eternal life peacefully at home, September 7, 2021, at the age of 84. Her spirit is carried on by the love of her life, Gary Tang, son, Curtis Ward, her many adored grandchildren, surviving siblings, Leon, Shirley, Chuck, Rena, and Chris,and an immeasurable number of Salt Lake City community members.

Born October 28, 1936, in Salt Lake City, Utah, to Norma and Orson Mille, Marilyn was the middle child of seven, all raised in Ogden, Utah where she graduated from Ogden High School. In 1954. At the age of seventeen, she married a then ‘rebel’ by the name of Larry Ward, resulting in the birth of her adored son, Curtis.

In 1965, Marilyn, her late sister Jeanne, and her then-boyfriend, Gary Tang, took a leap of faith by opening one of the first women-owned businesses in Utah, Certified Handling Systems. Marilyn was initially denied a business loan without a male co-signer, but as we know, she didn't let that stop her. Marilyn acknowledged the rhetoric and resistance she faced but chose to use it as inspiration for how she would live out the rest of her life.

Marilyn and Gary Tang fell in love and were married in 1970. Gary supported Marilyn's boundless business and philanthropic aspirations with love and encouragement for all 51 years of marriage. Together they traveled the world, intending to see, meet, and make life-long friends everywhere they went.

Marilyn attended LDS Business College and the University of Utah to continue her education. She actively utilized her adversaries to advocate for various philanthropic causes throughout her life and even ran for a state legislative seat, losing to the incumbent by only 3% of the vote. Marilyn was dedicated to the work behind equal rights for minorities, women's equality and representation, sponsorships for domestic abuse survivors, and combating child hunger.

By combining her charisma and unwavering resistance to the word 'no,' Marilyn approached all obstacles with ferocity and is recognized as one of the most influential female business owners in this state’s history. By adopting the Giraffe as her mascot, she trademarked the catchphrase, 'Stick your neck out!' to remind those around her to ‘Get up, speak up, and get out there!’

Marilyn was elected and successfully served as the President of the Salt Lake Council of Women, Governor Soroptimist Rocky Mountain Region, and President of Soroptimist of Salt Lake. She was awarded the 2003 YWCA Outstanding Achievement Award and the 2006 Athena Award for her accomplishments in community service, mentorship, and professional leadership.

She led her life with laughter and fun, relishing in time with family and friendships made around the world. Her role as 'Nana' to her five 'darling' grandchildren, Sean, Jessica, Danielle, Tommy, and Demi, was especially dear to her, many of whom work continuing her legacy at Certified Handling Systems, which still functions as family-owned nearly 55 years later.

Whether you once shook her hand in a formal meeting, spent a few long nights wrapping toy donations on her living room floor, or were successfully persuaded into modeling for charitable fashion shows, these memories of her dedication are a gift.

We are all witnesses to greatness and the difference one woman decided to make in the world

 “You’re great! You’re wonderful! They’re gonna’ love you!” – Marilyn

*In lieu of flowers, we ask that you donate any amount in her name to the nonprofit Marilyn dedicated so much of her life to, Soroptimist International of Salt Lake, Est. 1931, which works to provide education and economic empowerment to the world’s women and girls.

A celebration of Marilyn's life will be Friday, October 1, 2021 from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm at Starks Funeral Parlor located at 3651 South 900 East, Salt Lake City, Utah 84106.