Marilyn was born in Salt Lake on September 17, 1930. She passed away on October 7, 2011, after completing all she had set out to do and had seen all her fondest dreams come true.
Marilyn grew up in Salt Lake, graduated from East High, and went to work at the Telephone Company. She traveled with friends, skied, golfed, tennised and dabbled in photography. She learned to speak German and often got after her children in that commanding language.
At age 24 she chose to serve a mission and received a call to the Britain, serving primarily in Scarborough, England. Marilyn led a mini multitude to the waters of Baptism. Hundreds there called her name blessed.
In England she met the love of her life, Elder D., a fellow missionary. She reported, “We kept all mission rules but George did have an electrifying handshake.” They married January 1956 in the Salt Lake Temple. Together they served the Lord, their family, and those around them.
In her marriage, she took a young man from “old time American Fork” and motivated him to learn and grow. She was lovingly critical of his speaking, his writing, and his presiding at home and in the family. She demanded that he always do better. His greatest desire was to do all he did in a way that Marilyn would be proud of him. He wanted her often hard-to-achieve approval. She willing remained in the background, but it was truly her inspiration, guidance, and support that allowed George to succeed. George adored her. She was his support. She was his “Luvy.” Without her near he felt he was totally incomplete. During the last week of her life, in a lonely hospital room, she spoke to George, “You are truly a glorious man.” In that one sincere moment, she let him know that his dream to be good had come true.
Marilyn is the mother of eight children, Matthew (Jaclyn), Kathryn, Devin (Julie), Marinda Gentry (Steven), Dwight (Marci), Warren (Jodi), Sarah Larsen (Kelly), and Mark (Marilee), who knew her as a strong woman firmly rooted in the gospel. She had deep strength and her children relied on her strength which in turn made them who they are today. She often said, “If I knew how great they would be as adults, I would have treated them better as children.”
At family gatherings “stories about mom” brought much laughter. Marilyn’s humor made her a legend to her family. Sunday night scone parties, Thanksgiving rolls, and her chicken noodle soup will never be beat. She was happiest in regaling others of George, her children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren’s talents and accomplishments. She was more silent on her own generosity to others and accomplishments, and went about quietly doing good.
She was a straight shooter and always chose the correct targets. When the family would move, as they so often did, the new ward was excited to have George move in. But when the couple moved out they wept that they would be losing Marilyn. She was not as interested in first impressions as she was in quietly proving herself over the days and years of her life. She was almost a “no nonsense” person. But when the time for nonsense was right she was the most nonsensical person of them all.
George was called to preside over the Kentucky Tennessee Mission in 1972 and the couple, with their children, ages 15 to 18 months, moved. In Kentucky she continued to mother her eight young children, allowing George the freedom to serve as president. All the Elders dreamed of someday marrying someone like Sister Marilyn, and she gave the sisters and example of the beauty and power of a woman who followed the Lord.
In the 1980‘s George was called as President of the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah and Marilyn was at his side. She taught 50,000 missionaries how to dress and how to conduct themselves with dignity. She and her friend, Mary Ellen Edmunds, were a dynamic duo in teaching thousands of Sisters the glory of being a lady missionary.
Marilyn and George served a fourth mission together in Toronto, Canada. Though she could scarcely walk, she made her way along ice covered sidewalks to the many small institute classes at various universities. They were often late to class because every homeless person Marilyn met along the way she stopped to talk and to give them the lunch money she had brought for George and herself. She willingly prepared treats for the 200 hundred students she had helped round up and who attended the larger institute class. George would teach them and she would love them and feed them and encourage them one on one.
Marilyn was an amazing calligrapher and belonged to the Calligraphic Society of Utah. George often said, “She was the best calligrapher in Utah even stretching up in to southern Idaho.” Marilyn told him to stop saying that. But he felt he was right and would not refrain. Even in her last week’s she took the opportunity to share her calligraphy talent.
Special thanks to those at Utah Valley Specialty Hospital (each was an angel to her) for their kindness during her last weeks. We love Doctor Mitchell, Doctor Anderson, and Doctor Ney Ney. And to Darren, her physical therapist, who she loved, and who she defeated in a foot propelled wheel chair race a few days before her release from the hospital and from life on this earth. That was her last victory before she overcame death.
She a had a firm foundation and as the Mormon Tabernacle Choir sings, “I’ll never, no never (repeated 13 times) I’ll never, no never, no never forsake.”
There was no other like Marilyn. She was in this life, and forever, An Elect Lady.