“Big heart. Always positive. Always smiling.” That is how Holly Warlick described her sister, Marion Warlick Ferrill, who passed away July 2, 2022, from Parkinson’s disease.
“She battled it,” said Warlick, now 64, who remembered how her older sister took care of her and her brother after their father, Bill, died when Warlick was in high school, and their mother “had to work all the time” to support the family.
Warlick also thanked Thomas Ferrill, her sister’s husband for 43 years, who “took care of her until the very end.” Marion Ferrill also is survived by brother Bill, daughter Leslie Ferrill and her husband, Jamonn Brady, and grandchildren Eli and Jada Brady.
Ferrill, who died at the age of 70, had survived breast cancer. Warlick, then the Lady Vols basketball head coach, presented her older sister with a pink ball Feb. 17, 2013, during the breast cancer awareness game at Thompson-Boling Arena after she had undergone a year of treatment.
A video of the sisters by Tennessee Athletics can be watched here.
During the post-game press conference, Warlick spoke about her sister’s bravery.
“We’re here raising awareness for breast cancer, and when my sister had to battle that and to see her there, that’s a survivor,” Warlick said. “I gave her a ball and said she’s my greatest hero. As we’re battling a game and we’re concerned about a game, that is a battle of life.”
Ferrill, a frequent attendee at UT basketball games with their mother, Fran Warlick, also had traveled on occasion with the team when the Lady Vols played in Alaska and Europe.
“I’ve heard from a lot of former players who have reached out,” Warlick said. “That was really nice.”
Both sisters went to Bearden High School, and minus one year in Memphis, Ferrill was a lifelong Knoxvillian.
“She graduated from high school and went to work for Bell South,” Warlick said.
Fran Warlick is now dealing with dementia and lives in a memory care facility in Knoxville. In lieu of flowers, the family asked that donations be sent to The Pat Summitt Foundation and the Mayo Clinic.
Thomas Ferrill chose the Mayo Clinic because of its work with Parkinson’s disease, and Warlick selected The Pat Summitt Foundation because of how dementia has affected her family and the late Pat Summitt.
A celebration of life service will be held Saturday, July 9, at 3 p.m. at Rose Funeral and Cremation-Mann, 6200 Kingston Pike. Pastor Dick DeMerchant of First Baptist Church Lenoir City, where Ferrill was a member, will officiate the service.
“She enjoyed life,” Warlick said. “We are all going to miss her.”
Maria M. Cornelius, a writer/editor at Moxley Carmichael since 2013, began writing about the Lady Vols in 1998. In 2016, she published her first book, “The Final Season: The Perseverance of Pat Summitt,” through The University of Tennessee Press. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.