Living life on her own terms to the end, Marilyn quietly left this life on Friday night journeying on to her next adventure. She started this life on August 29th, 1925 in Washington D.C. Maybe this was where she developed the sense of responsibility and individual commitment to participation in her community at all levels- The neighborhood Descro Taskforce, local, state and national concerns. She was very involved in Girls State for many years as well.
Her graduation from the University of Maryland with an RN degree launched her in to a lifetime of caring for others, both in and out of uniform. In 1947 she joined her family who had moved from Washington D.C. to Montana a few years prior, and fell in love with the West. She started her nursing career at Billings Deaconess Hospital, where she met her friend Dickie, who along with her husband set her up on a blind date with Joe Haddenhorst. Never one to shy away from an adventure, she said yes. Joe and Marilyn were married on September 15, 1950 in the First Congregational Church. They had three children, Vickie, George, and Debbie.
Church membership provided many more opportunities to serve others. The family transferred to Mayflower Congregational Church where she remained an active member, serving especially in the roll of “Greeter Extraordinaire”, making sure any new visitor was made to feel welcome and included in the community of faith. She also served as an unappointed church historian, clipping articles, taking pictures, posting stories and information about members. She was a loyal member of Church Women United.
Marilyn was one of the most generous people most of us have had the pleasure of knowing. She was giving with her resources but most generous with her time, and she put in a lot of effort getting to know everyone she met. She remembered all the special occasions in her friend’s and family’s lives and sent cards with pictures and clippings to personalize them even more. Her library and organization of all this information was an astounding feat, as it was voluminous and completely analog. In the year 2015, when our capability to do this is so much easier and yet rarely done, this display of thoughtfulness is truly her lasting legacy.
No better place was this love and thoughtfulness put than in welcoming and getting to know her grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and glowing in their accomplishments and stories. All of this she shared readily with great pride. Grandchildren include Kirstin, Leah, and Erik (George’s); Chris, Marni, and Duncan (Vickie’s); and Jesse and Coulter (Debbie’s). Her 9 great-grandchildren include Elizabeth, Emily and Carter (Kirstin’s); Maddison and Alex (Leah’s); Zoe and Luc (Chris’); Vivian (Marni’s); and Teague (Erik’s). We will all strive to keep her memory and legacy alive through them.
Always wanting to have the last word, she ended her conversations with, “I hope you feel my love for you.” So many friends and family have had the wonderful opportunity to know Marilyn and we hope you all feel her love for you. She requested no memorial service, but to honor her the family is asking to please send a card to someone in your life, and to decorate a tombstone of a Veteran this Memorial Day. For those wanting a way to honor her memory, donations can also be made to Riverside Hospice, Montana Girls State (ALA Girls State c/o Jamie DeBates PO BOX 1447 Polson, MT 59860), or the Relay for Life.